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AnimeFreak

Yajuu and AnimeFreak! Battle Royale!

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----------Ezralda----------

The gargantuan football stadium was a fitting place for a battle of their caliber. The once artificial, green grass was now old, ripped, and torn, covered with a thin layer of white snow. Circling around them in an oval were thousands of empty seats, the eery silence was filled with the imaginative cheers of thousands of people, rooting for Ryuzaki. Rooting for Ezralda to be beheaded.

 

Ezralda's hands clenched into tight fists. Her body now only resembled a human in shape, her dark blue skin covered her sleek, sensual body while her long white hair fell down to the middle of her back. Her eyes matched her hair, white as snow, with a contrasting black pupil in the center—slit like a cat's eye. A thin sheet of semi-frozen water covered her breasts and the space between her legs. She was in the purest form of a fairy—abandoning all ties and no longer wanting to appear human.

 

They stood glaring at each other for a long time—or at least what seemed like one. Ezralda was purposely waiting for Ryuzaki to ask her why. To ask her why she did it, why she betrayed everyone after all they sacrificed for her, why she tried to kill people she once was willing to be killed for.

 

The answer was simple, really. “From day one,†as she spoke the air got noticeable colder, a mimicry of her soul perhaps, “I held your fates in the palm of my hand.†The answer was a half-truth, she truly had been manipulating all of them, forming the connections she need to wage a war and win it.

 

By this time the fires had quieted around Ryuzaki. The ancient power that dwelled within him made Ezralda—yes, Ezralda, Queen of the Fae, one of the strongest living beings in recorded history—wince. She wouldn't take him lightly; there was no doubt in her mind that she couldn't win, especially not with the measures she'd put in place for a contingency such as this, but none of her precautions would make a damn bit of difference if she took a step to quickly, or took a jab to the wrong side, and got herself decapitated. Ryuzaki's glare showed his anger, his annoyance, and perhaps his pity. Perhaps he felt sorry for Ezralda, completely isolating herself, truly alone in the world besides Nahadoth—who at this point was completely consumed by his inner demons. None of it got to her, though, she wouldn't let it at this point, this was the part of the foretelling that had always been blank in her fruition. The part that Nahadoth—the old Nahadoth—was confused and upset by.

 

The fire, His voice from years ago played back in her mind, everything he spoke was fragmented with coughs and lurches and he couldn't stop trembling. Trying his damnedest to fight off what was overwhelming him, Michael will confront you, then there'll be some strange fire, containing the likes of something you've never fought before, and then that's where my foretelling stops. I've given all I have, Ezralda, all I have and yet that's all I can see. Her memory of that night was clear, she cupped his cheek in her hand and sheltered him for a brief moment, kissing him gently on the lips. His shutters and struggles stopped when she whispered into his ear proclamations of her love for him. Still the part about Nahadoth's divination and transformation that day that bothered her most was he didn't have to give it all at that moment. Had he not pushed his demon for that last bit of power, for that last glimpse into the future, the last glimpse to have more details of the situation and more understanding, he probably wouldn't have been consumed and he probably could have stayed with her. He gave everything he had in that moment for her, and in the end that's what broke her. 

 

Everybody forgets that she wasn't always the way she was now, everybody forgets that, at one time, she wanted--more than anything in the world--to be human.

 

It was the last brief moment she had with him, with Nahadoth, the man she loved, before he was completely taken over by the demon that dwells inside him—his family's curse. Nahadoth had drawn on that power to aid Ezralda in her last, great battle against the former Winter Queen. Had it not been for that, they probably would have lost. Ryuzaki would remember. Ryuzaki was there that day. In fact, nearly everyone in the city right now was at that battle. She was sure Ryuzaki remembered that moment.

 

“Ryuzaki,†Her entire demeanor was different from what it once was, from what it was when they had fought alongside one another, “I always thought it would come to this.†She focused her power, building it up and preparing herself for something she'd been curious about for a long time, “When I kill you please say hello to Ryuk for me, I'll be sure to send Sookie there personally, as well, she's been missing him for such a long time.†A smile swept across her face, “Is there anything you'd like to say to me before we begin?â€

 

----------Willow----------

 

The street was strangely crowded—not the type of crowded you'd expect for a city, but a type of deserted crowded, a paradox in and of itself. The cars were parked sparatically and the houses run down. Old trash and newspapers flew around in the winter breeze and were being pelted with a fresh layer of snow that fell on them. Most of the cars were dented and damaged from Jinkama and Willow's tussle, a tussle that Jinkama clearly got the better of her in.

 

She was at a clear disadvantage, she doesn't have the physical strength necessary to breach his strange aura, sure there may be a few things she could do to win, but realistically this wasn't a battle she could win. Jinkama's knowledge of martial arts and his impregnable aura make an almost unbeatable combination against someone with powers like hers. It was like fighting someone with a sniper rifle in a mountain range when you only have a pistol, sure the pistol can kill him but he has a distinct advantage. However if you were to take those same two people and put them in an open field about twenty feet apart, the one with a pistol has the obvious advantage.

 

She couldn't help but feel like this was a bad idea though, betraying her family and Ezralda. That fear was quickly dispelled though, the life of being an assassin troubled her, constantly nagging in the back of her mind, calling to her to break away and live her own life the way she wanted. This could be that opportunity for her, to start anew and do things the way she wanted. When her family found out, things would get a tad rocky, but that was bridge she'd gladly cross later. One thing was sure though, she was faster than anyone of them so she could always out run them.

 

Willow was in a slight amount of pain, nothing that she couldn't manage though. When she got a free moment she was going to need to bandage her left knee, otherwise putting pressure on it would be a bother. It was a rather annoying turn of events that she was stuck with Jinkama in this fight. Gently she ran her arms across her tight black leggings, feeling around her knee and down to the ankle of her left leg---making sure she wasn't missing any random fractures. Her black, long-sleeve shirt had a tear in the side where she smacked against a car and rolled, revealing her skin and the beginnings of a severe bruise. It was a severe disadvantage of her speed, she was extraordinary fragile compared to most fighters of her caliber. She pulled her dark brown hair back into a pony tail and as she walked closer to Jinkama the difference in their height became palpable, she was hardly an inch over five feet. Her running shoes left small footprints in the freshly fallen snow.

 

Remembering that she didn't have much time to explain Ezralda's plan. “Truthfully I don't really know that much about it, however I do know that all of Ezralda's allies right now are supposed to 'die'â€--she put her fingers in the air and made quotation symbols--â€and weaken you guys.†Willow could tell that Jinkama was contemplating what she was saying, “Then her next phase will begin and something from Summer will emerge.†The mention of Summer made Jinkama's eyebrows raise slightly, Willow continued, “None of us really know what it is honestly, however Ezralda was blatantly clear that our purpose here was either kill every single one of you—something that's clearly not probable—or be killed and let her wards summon something else.

 

“It makes a lot of sense considering how strained most of you would be—Jayden, Nahadoth, and Coldsnap are serious contenders, I'd be surprised if they already haven't killed some of your friends, and if your friends are strong enough to beat them they'll be pretty well beat down.â€

 

Willow waited a brief moment, the cold air whirling around her, the snow gently falling and covering her black clothes with a thin layer of white. She was wondering what Jinkama was going to say, he was a very odd man, or so she noticed.

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=== Ryuzaki ===

 

Fitting. He thought as he stood within Michael’s flames. A stadium as the final setting to this battle; like the gladiators of old.

 

Ryuzaki stood within the centre of a raging fire unharmed, the flames filtering around him as if scared of his power. He sensed that Michael had added something extra, to calm his rage, and he made a mental note to thank the semi-elemental when they next met. If Ryuzaki attacked in rage now, his demise would most likely follow. He need to be control in a time when he was about to face off with one of the strongest beings currently standing on the planet. His eyes, golden in colour and practically shining, locked onto Ezralda’s and they stood for what could have been aeons but was merely seconds.

 

When he had organised his allies to stand against Ezralda’s madness, one might be mistaken to think that he might have dressed for the occasion, but Ryuzaki wouldn’t give Ezralda that satisfaction. Instead he was wearing what he had been wearing when he had quashed a rebellion of fire mages in Australia. His upper body was bare of cloth, instead his chest was covered by a vest-style armour or plated metal that stopped at his waist; a crystal cross sat embedded in its centre. While strapped around his forearms were guards of the same metal. Loose black trousers hung around his legs and tucked into heavy black boots, the same plated armour strapped to the ground. The armour was a matte black that seemed to suck in all light that touched its metal.

 

As the fires surround him died down to nothing, the thin layer of snow that covered the broken grass around him evaporated and covered the area in a low layer of steam. It made it look like the two of them were standing in a shallow lake. Ryuzaki could sense Ezralda’s thoughts, not literally, but the way she looked at him told him that she wanted him to speak; to ask her why she had betrayed her friends to stand as Queen of the Fae. He didn’t, he just held the stare until Ezralda made the first move and spoke into the quiet arena.

 

“From day one, I held your fates in the palm of my hand.†She said, the ambient temperature dropping noticeably.

 

Ryuzaki narrowed his eyes slightly but did not retort; the statement was a half-truth. Sure, her power when they had met had been formidable, but so had Ryuzaki’s; even before he had transcended into Master-dome.  When they had helped her conquer the previous Winter Queen, Michael had stated that the balance had been tipped and that the world would soon begin a new era. Ryuzaki didn’t think the man had thought Ezralda would do what she had done, but he had always been remarkably intelligent with such things.

 

When Ezralda spoke again, Ryuzaki cocked his head slightly to the side in bemusement. He listened to her statement without reaction until she asked a question of him at the end. Despite the fact he was not human, Ryuzaki was still a gentleman. However, he couldn’t help but grin as he spoke, flashing his fangs. “You made a mistake. You made the mistake.†He paused as Ezralda made a questioning look on her face. “You attacked me with the deluded hope that you would kill me before I returned the favour in full. Ezralda, I have only one thing to say to you; perhaps today, I will feast on the heart of a Queen.â€

 

With that said he shot forward in an instant, parting the steam like a strong wind, and appeared in front of Ezralda in a half crouch. His pressed the fingers of his right hand together to form a spear and aimed to pierce her through her left lung. His speed was likely unmatched in the world, but Ryuzaki knew that Ezralda was one of the very few beings who could follow his top speed with her eyes. That being said, he knew her reactions were slower by about 0.4ms; enough time for him to likely scratch her. But that was all he needed.

 

=== Jinkama ===

 

Jinkama would have described like the scene out of a zombie movie; what with the abandoned cars, a severe lack of any life anywhere. Of course, if it was a zombie movie, the zombies were missing a well. But Jinkama wasn’t really paying attention to his surroundings, instead focusing on the girl in front of him. He loved his fights, but Willow had been incompatible with his fighting style and magic type, which upset him. But, for now it was not all a complete waste, she had some inside information on Ezralda’s plan now they were out of her palace and in this prepared battle ground. Unfortunately, her information was not specific and Jinkama kept silent for a minute, thinking hard.

 

The cold air pushed against his bare chest, showing off his skinny but muscular physique, and the wind blew around the loose white fabric that were his trousers. They only fluttered, however, as they were tucked into his low boots, the light glinting off the silver plates strapped to the front. A white bandanna was currently wrapped around his forehead, keeping his shoulder length blue hair out of his eyes.

 

Suddenly, he raised his arms into the air with an exasperated sigh and slumped to a sitting position on the floor, resting his back against the cold metal of a car. “I’m no kind of thinker…as I’m sure you may have noticed while we fought, I am a sensationalist. I need to be a spectacle, or witness one, to be excited at all. With all this talk of sneaky plans, and summoning things from Summer, I’m starting to get even more annoyed with the ice bitch.†He pulled the bandanna off his head, letting his long fringe fall into his eyes, and stuffed it into his pocket.

 

With a sudden burst of energy he jumped up again and pointed at Willow. “You are a spectacle as much as me, there must be a way we can use that somehow. Perhaps you can amble up to one of your former allies before punching him in the gonads. The look on his face would be priceless.†He turned away and walked a couple of feet across to where a long sleeved black t-shirt and a sleeveless denim jacket lay in a heap on the floor. As he put them on, sliding the cold fabric over his head, he glanced across to see Willow looking at him.

 

“I know what you’re thinking.†He said, slipping his jacket on. “But remember that you and me are the same; we’re just looking for a good fight. The bitch isn’t going to win this one, so we might as well enjoy it well it lasts. I say we leave her and her demon bozo to plan and scheme and go and find ourselves someone to fight.†He chuckled and rubbed his arm. “You couldn’t remove these things, could you?†he gestured at his arm and leg where sections of them were glowing with a strange purple energy. “You know, with us being friends now and all.â€

 

=== Arafel ===

 

The two objects in his hands could be described as spherical cogs. They were the size of golf balls and had indented squares running along the surface. Only Arafel knew what was contained within these spheres as he spun them around the fingers on his right hand. Zane and Ellie were now out of the picture and that was just the first step, he had a couple more things to prepare before he could make his way into the stadium that was in front of him. Despite his lack of traditional magic, or enhanced senses that could pick up a fly farting, he could still sense the power of the two individuals within the structure; he was pretty sure even a normal human would be able to sense it.

 

He adjusted the grey beanie cap on his head and swept his scraggily blonde hair behind his ears. It reached the nape of his neck, brushing the collar of a fur lined jacket that covered a long sleeved black t-shirt with orange rings running up the sleeves. Black jeans covered his legs and black pointed shoes adorned his feet. A chain hung from his leather belt with each alternate link holding a small metal cog; four interlocking cogs of the same design were tattooed onto the right side of his neck.

 

With a flick of his wrist, Arafel sent the two smoky black objects into the air before absorbing them into his right hand. It was time to move things forward, he couldn’t be late; even if he knew he couldn’t be late.

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----------Ezralda----------

 

The hardest part about Ryuzaki, Ezralda knew, would be finding some way to counter his speed. Before he lunged, in fact the second she saw that it was Ryuzaki standing there amidst the flames, she attempted to create some type of plan. Some type of counter attack to pary his speed. Her conclusion was ambiguous and her outcome looked bleak. She could follow him with her eyes, sure, but all that meant was that she could watch Ryuzaki rip out her jugular.

 

Ryuzaki's lunge was beautiful. Everything was perfectly timed and his body was positioned in a way that offered Ezralda no room to move in, less she be willing to get more damage done. No, she—and Ryuzaki for that matter—already knew that in a fist fight Ryuzaki would come out victorious. His speed, his reach, his reactions, and his strength all trumped hers. She had no hope whatsoever in a fight such as that.

 

It was a good thing she didn't want one.

 

She lunged back—while her speed wasn't on par with Ryuzaki's she could still respond to his, albeit about half a millisecond too late. Simultaneously, while she did this, she began to weave a spell and draw upon the powers of Winter. As she jumped backwards, at the same time the muscles in her legs and back contracted to provide the intense lurch of power backwards, her lips puckered and an icy gust rushed forth. The wind itself was completely harmless, however inside the icy gale was shards of ice as sharp as broken glass and pointed towards Ryuzaki. Ryuzaki's forward momentum would only further help this attack of hers.

 

While it was a crafty counter measure on her part, it wasn't going to stop him whatsoever. Ryuzkai's nails bit into the skin of Ezralda's chest, directly between her breasts, digging into the bone as if it were ice and Ryuzaki's hand a blow torch. Her backwards lunge helped her put some much needed space between them, otherwise Ryuzaki would easily have her heart in his hand, swallowing it in one gulp—just as he did to Erivis' heart on that day, that day that she remembered so vividly. Ezralda wasn't willing to give Ryuzaki a chance to recover from her—meager albeit but still one nonetheless—counter. She was going to show him that she was just as capable in combat as he was.

 

Even before Ryuzaki charged, Ezralda had already been weaving her battle plan into action. Most likely he had noticed and just not cared particularly. It was why she had wasted time stopping to gawk and speak to him. She needed those few extra seconds to let the snow around the edges of the stadium and in the stands melt. The freezing water encroached upon them, covering the ground in which they stood, giving Ezralda a much needed boost of agility and speed. Ryuzaki would have to—or so she assumed at least—take a few precious moments to correct his footing before and after every one of his charges now. Whereas she would have complete dominion over this terrain.

 

Ryuzaki's nails were still piercing her skin by a fraction of a millimeter, at this point, and she wasn't going to allow him to assert more force and eliminate the slight edge she'd given herself by throwing spike of ice in his general direction and pushing herself backwards.

 

Her feet skidded for a brief second on the ice and she pushed off, with the grace and agility of an Olympic skater, balance and control absolute, footing and form perfect. Her skin, too, changed and became whiter, colder looking. Her fingers on her right hand from the third digit up each became separately encased in a nail of ice. From the middle of her forearm on her left arm, a long sword of ice jutted from it, extending outwards by about four feet. She had pulled her left arm across her chest, however, as she formed this and angled her right fingers down towards Ryuzaki's left leg, taking aim before she let loose her assault.

 

At this point she gained a slight edge in the space between them, when she pushed off on the ice she had gained about three feet of space between them, hopefully it would be enough for her to succeed. The ice-nails on her right hand shot forward, they had the concussive force of an AK-47 and their sole purpose was to maim Ryuzaki for a brief instant so that he couldn't get out of the range of her next two attacks. The very instant Ezralda's nails were released from her hand she began turning her wrist and opening up her hand, palm upwards, aimed towards Ryuzaki's head, inside the palm of her hand appeared, in the fraction of a second it took for her to turn her wrist, twenty small, balls of ice. She shot them off with the force of a shot gun. While she fired off balls of ice from her hand, she contracted her elbow that was held against her wrist—the sword of ice extended skyward at an angle—and she closed the three-foot gap with her four-foot blade of ice; aiming to deliver a foot-deep gash across Ryuzaki's chest.

 

Feel the bit of winter, Ryuzaki. Her cold thoughts mimicked her appearance, now, You may have speed and strength to counter anything and the ability to heal faster than you are wounded, but let us see if that healing factor—an overwhelming and most powerful asset—can be overwhelmed.

 

She was in her truest and most powerful form now. Beginning to enter it silently and without bringing attention to herself, hoping that by doing this she could get the edge on Ryuzaki and could kill him before he could enter his—a thought that would most likely be in vain, but worth a shot nonetheless. The only changes to her, oddly enough, was the color of her skin—turning to a pure snow white. A dabble of blood running down her chest form the jab from Ryuzaki. The form didn't scream power, but Ryuzaki would know all to well not to underestimate it.

 

He would know better than anyone.

 

 

----------Willow----------

Jinkama had had a pretty interesting idea. She truly saw the greatness of it, especially how easily it fit her and the execution would be simple, a perfect fit for her really. She spoke “That'll be easy for me to accomplish,†a broad smile spread across Jinkama's face, “I was always considered stand-off-ish by Ezralda's goons, none wanted much to do with me and frequently underestimated my abilities. I doubt any of them even know what I can do.â€

 

She didn't argue with him about his statement about them being the same, she didn't necessarily agree, but perhaps she had given him the impression that she wanted a good fight. Truthfully, she didn't want die, and fighting Jinkama would most likely lead to her death. He seemed like a pretty cool dude, however, so sticking with him for the time being actually sounded like fun, and when was the last time she actually had fun?

 

With a brief effort of concentration she removed her effects from Jinkama's body, he let out a noticeable sigh of relief and she laughed to herself, “We should get a better vantage point, though, it'll make--â€

 

Her sentence was cut off by the sound of cackling thunder and several jolts of purple lightning struck the ground a short distance away. Oddly enough, though, the noise stopped. Abruptly cut off as if someone had unplugged the power cord while you were blending a smoothie—a cacophony of obnoxious sounds abruptly dieing.

 

In the next instant Willow barely caught Jinkama dash off in the direction of the noise—something, though, was off.

 

----------Matthew----------

 

The hammer he held in his hands felt right. He whipped it at Jayden with tremendous force, Jayden countering with something equally as powerful. The two had fought each other for what seemed like eons, neither slowing down, neither showing fatigue, but each bearing more and more wounds. Matthew's body was badly battered with mostly burns. His entire left leg had, at some point, been caught in a tremendously hot gout of fire from Jayden. They were equal at one point, however Matthew's powers had strict limit to them and he was almost there. The stood facing each other, between dismantled skyscrapers, on a large six lane road, breathing heavy, Matthew breathing much heavier though. Jayden had a sizable dent in his chest from Matthew's gargantuan hammer, and Matthew's leg was going to definitely need to be amputated. The storm clouds above them ranged and purple lightning cracked and rumbled throughout them—quietly, like a cat's low, quiet, growl warning you not to come near less you feel the wrath hidden within. As Matthew stood there glaring at Jayden one thing became painfully clear to him.

 

He was going to die.

 

The power of his ancestors coursed through his veins, giving him an impossible and unmanageable level of strength. He had lost track of how long he'd been maintaining it, all he knew is that between Jayden and Matthew, several buildings had been leveled and dust and debris littered the surrounding area. He had never—he had never even heard of anyone—maintaining this amount of power from his family for so long. He didn't know how much longer he had before it would run out, he just knew that he was going to throw everything into his next attack and pray that it would be enough to take Jayden down with him. A prayer he knew, in the back of his mind, would go unanswered. It was evident that Jayden had come out on top, now it was all about how much Matthew could slow him down for someone else.

 

My friends, He thought as the lightning curled around him, illuminating his body with a fluorescent purple glow, I am so lucky to have met all of you, to have been blessed by you, Tears ran down his face now, but one couldn't tell, I am sorry for not being able to defeat him. He is on a level beyond mine. Please forgive me, in the end I was useless.

 

He lunged forward, the storm above him sending multiple lightning strikes into his body, feeding him more and more power, accumulating an amount that gave Matthew a strange euphoric high. The hammer her raised over his head, muscles flexing, knuckles white from the intense grip. His mouth was open in a war cry and the noise generated from his accumulation of power was immense. Jayden readied himself and prepared a feeble block by raising his right arm.

 

“Thank god,†Matthew said, “I'll take your right arm with me to the grave!†As his hammer struck down, Matthew suddenly felt all his fears crash into him.

 

All of his power was gone. He was left with the power of an ordinary man, in the air, a few feet from a being of supernatural, godly proportions, holding the head of his hammer in his hand. The lack of power hit Matthew like a freight train. It became a burden just to remain conscious as every muscle in his body ached from being torn and pushed to hard. The worst was his left leg though which from the middle of his calf was seared and covered with third degree burns. Every bone in his body was riddled with stress and micro fractures.

 

Jayden stepped forward and with what looked like the effort it would take for a car to hit a raccoon, he punched Matthew in the chest. Matthew was sent flying backwards, his entire sternum caved, collapsing both his lungs and stopping his heart beat. He was caught in a strange limbo of life and death, feeling no more pain and simply watching his body tumble, numbed. He stuck out his right leg to stop himself from flying backwards and instead of reducing momentum his leg snapped at the middle of his calf—his fibula rupturing and protruding from his skin in a compound fracture, blood pouring forth. As his body came crashing down on that leg, his femur also snapped. Still he was unmoving, unable to feel pain. His purple pants ripped and shredded and burnt. His body ripped and shredded and burnt. His spirit ripped, shredded, burnt.

 

Somehow he managed to hang onto his hammer though, throughout it all his grip was stronger than ever. Jayden slowly stalked over, the distance he would have to cover wasn't much and it appeared like he was powering down, but Matthew couldn't tell. He couldn't tell much of anything honestly. As far as he knew he wasn't even alive. There was a trail of blood leading to where he laid now, sprawled awkwardly on the pavement. As Jayden got nearer Matthew made some feeble, instinctual attempt to fend him off, he raised his left arm—the one that was grasping the hammer—and it was then he noticed that somewhere between him getting punched by Jayden and him ended up where he did now, it had been bent backwards at the elbow.

 

“I'm glad that I have gotten to fight for, with, all of you one last time.†He said to himself—although he wasn't sure if he it was in his head or out loud. He was prepared for death now, ready to go on to the afterlife to meet his ancestors, to see his grandfather again—oh how he looked forward to that, he loved that man.

 

But mostly he couldn't wait to be part of the powerful force that Elizabeth would one day use, hopefully he would still be cognizant of it all. He wanted nothing more than to see what her children would look like.

 

His last thoughts as death took him were of hope. Hope that he would get to see his family grow from the heavens. He didnt hope, however for Ryuzaki to win. He already knew that.

 

----------Willow----------

 

As they approached the carnage, one thing was clear, Jinkama wasn't his usual self. They were still a ways away but Willow felt uneasy about the approach, something set Jinkama off and, as they approached, she saw what had done it.

 

Matthew Prideux—something that she was specifically instructed to avoid—was sprawled on the floor in what could hardly be identified as human. His leg was nearly burnt of, his skin covered in blood and burns, his left arm and right leg were bent and broken in positions that would cause a normal person to vomit. Jikama's aura grew and Willow saw he was about to make a mistake.

 

Well, she wasn't entirely sure, If he rushes Jayden he'll die, even weakend as he is Jayden is still to much for him. I need to stop him so that he can think. Their approach waas silent and Jayden was walking towards Matthew anyway with his back towards them, his attention fixated on Matthew's dieing corpse. Willow could see the pain in Jinkama's face—he wanted nothing more than to help his friend, sadly he needed to realize their wasn't anything he could do.

 

She was slightly behind him, so it made her assault easy, she closed her hands into fist and stuck out her pointer and middle fingers. From them extended hues of slightly purple energy. With two quick slashes she pierced Jinkama's aura and severed his Achiles tendon—not literally of course, her attack merely attacks the nerves and sends signals to his brain. By doing this, he lost balance and fell forward. She rushed under him and threw him on her shoulder, dashing through a broken window with silent, expert, skill.

 

Sneaking around was something she was actually good at. Even if Jayden wanted too he couldn't have heard her. If there was anything she could do well it was silently stalk and eliminate something, all by producing less decibels than a feather crashing to the floor. She was sure Jinkama's face was incredulous but she wasn't going to stick around, she immediately removed the effects of her attack and dashed out the window, silently darting for Jayden who was now glaring at a dead Matthew.

 

She silently stood off to his right, waiting for him to acknowledge her. She'd never actually spoken to him before so she found this to be the best course of action.

 

He wanted a fight, She thought, Hopefully this isn't the one he wants, though.

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=== Ryuzaki ===

 

She’s been practicing. Ryuzaki thought as a millimetre before his extended fingers touched her skin, Ezralda was already moving backwards in an attempt to dodge it. Well, if she was only as good as she had been the previous time we had met, I would be disappointed. However, her movement was not completely unexpected and Ryuzaki changed the trajectory of his attack in an instant and was now aimed at the flesh between Ezralda’s breasts; the tip of his fingers penetrating the flesh before he realised that she had already dodged the majority of his attack.

 

The tiny shards of ice flew forward from her mouth at the same time as she moved backwards, but Ryuzaki didn’t even try to block them as they bit into the exposed skin of his face, neck, and arms. Instantly the air immediately surrounding him was filled with a fine red mist as the ice broke his skin and his blood escaped through the minute holes. His body fixed the wounds in less than a blink, but Ezralda kept the onslaught going so his wounds just kept opening again and again. Ryuzaki suspected it might be the start of some clever scheme of hers, likely related to the fact that the ground beneath his feet was becoming akin to an ice rink.

 

Due to his now unsure footing, Ryuzaki had to take a brief moment to stabilize his grip on the ground and Ezralda used it to escape the reach of his now extended arm; she had also fired a large shard of glass-like ice but a simple angling of his head dodged the attack. He cursed to himself in his head and quickly drew his arm in to his side, cocking it ready for another attack. Ezralda slid across the floor so gracefully, one might think she had grown up living in such conditions. Ryuzaki couldn’t help but think that that was probably true, given her heritage.

 

His eyes still locked on her form, even as she readied her next attack, Ryuzaki saw her change into her most powerful form; he remembered it and was grimaced inwardly at the power she was displaying to beat him. This didn’t deter him, however, as he stepped forward to attack again. Ezralda had now created a small gap between them and she took full advantage of it as her attacks came in swift succession.

 

The icy nails that sprouted from her right hand slammed into the top his his right thigh, ripping it down to the bone with their force. This caused Ryuzaki to drop slightly on his right side and the left side of his face received the full force of her shotgun-type attack; these to ripped his skin free to the bone, removing his left eye in the process, and Ryuzaki couldn’t help buy physically grimace at the attack. Even as Ezralda’s long blade swept down, Ryuzaki’s good right eye following it’s arc of attack, his wounds were already beginning to heal.

 

With a smile on his face, his fangs prominently displayed, he twisted his torso slightly and received her ice blade directly onto the top of his left shoulder. It cut through his armour like it was butter and cut down to his collar bone; a deep wound. But Ryuzaki didn’t let it continue as he grabbed it with his left hand, letting it cut into the palm, and slammed his right fist into the side of the blade, snapping it off, leaving a length of it embedded in his shoulder. Now he had a decision to make; step into Ezralda to attack or create distance. Normally, he would have gone with the first option, creating distance with Ezralda usually worked in her favour, but he needed a brief moment so opted to create distance.

 

Ryuzaki forced his left foot into the ground, cracking the icy water and the ground beneath, and disappeared from where he stood, appearing on the other side of the stadium. He crashed into the wall with his feet, crumbling the concrete, before landing gracefully on the ground, pulling Ezralda’s ice blade free of his shoulder to allow it to heal faster; not that that would be a concern when he was done.

 

“How rude of me; the Queen of the Winter Fae shows me her most powerful form and here I am still wearing the guise of a human.†He said across the stadium, standing up straight and gripping his armour at the collar. With a sharp tug he pulled it free and dumped it to the floor as he revealed his bare, muscled chest. At the same time he pulled the arm guards free of their straps and dropped them to the floor as well. Then he smiled, and his fangs grew an inch in length.

 

His transformation didn’t stop there, however, as the golden glow that was his eyes faded to a deep red until his entire eye, from corner to corner, was the same colour. His usually whiter-than-normal skin suddenly started to darken, like he was becoming extremely tanned, until it was the colour of coal. His smile widened even as the light surrounding him seemed to dim even though they were outside.

 

“The Master Vampire’s form is the epitome of mystery to the world, Ezralda. So as not to give away the secrets of my race to the enemy, I will only say this; if the ice is your domain, then the darkness is ours.†He started chuckling as the strange dimness that surrounded him started creeping outwards in a circle around him, the area it touched becoming strangely devoid of nearly all light.

 

=== Jayden ===

 

He was the most powerful opponent Jayden had ever had the honour of confronting; Matthew Prideux had pushed the Guardian to limits no-one had ever done before. As the mage gathered power for what appeared to be his final attack, Jayden raised his right arm to block with the realisation that when the blow connected, he would probably lose it. But if sacrificing his right was what was required to end the man before him, he would gladly do it; his will could only take his body so far before it self-destructed.

 

As the hammer drew closer, millimetre by millimetre, Jayden prepared his counterattack; take the blow with his right arm and divert the power away from the rest of his body, strike out with the left hand, take Matthew’s head from his shoulders. However, as the iron weapon clashed with his hand, the ominous feeling of power dissipated and Jayden was left standing there, grasping the head of the hammer in his hand even as it burnt into his crystalline skin, with a mortal man stood before him.

 

If Jayden had had a mouth to sigh from, a sigh of relief would have sounded as he realised Matthew had run out of time; his power was gone. Despite the cracks, wounds, he had received from the lightning mage, Jayden had come out on top; just about. But he didn’t let his guard down yet, he moved the hammer aside and delivered a short jab to Matthew’s sternum, sending the man tumbling backwards with the force.

 

As Jayden walked forward slowly, observing the broken man before him, he saw Matthew raise his inverted arm in an attempt to attack or defend, but it didn’t get any further. As Jayden stopped walking, leaving a foot or so between him and Matthew, he heard Matthew murmur something but didn’t catch what he said. His ears were still ringing from some of the blows he had received earlier in the match.

 

The fight is not over yet. He thought as he raised his right arm, small holes appearing along the side to allow small jets of flame to escape, and created a ring of lightning in front of the knuckles. Jayden stepped forward to deliver the final blow but jerked to a halt suddenly; Matthew had closed his eyes and died. Jayden lowered his arm, extinguishing the flame and lightning on the way, and as he rested it at his side, the crystalline rock that was currently his body shattered along the length of the arm to reveal flesh underneath. Jayden glanced down at it in surprise, Matthew had truly been strong if his form was cracking like that in order to allow Jayden to heal.

 

“You were a worthy opponent, Matthew Prideux. Right up to the final moments of your life. “ He said before glancing to his right to see a girl standing there. It took him a second, a second that would have killed him if the girl had been an enemy, before he realised who it was. “Willow, right?†he said, not expecting an answer. “What are you doing here? There are still enemies out there to eliminate. Go and find one, I am going to rest.†As he spoke, the substance covering his lower left jaw shattered to reveal his mouth.

 

Willow didn’t move and Jayden was about to command her when the side of a building a couple of feet down from them exploded and a figure covered in a golden aura slid to a stop, his gaze locked on the building he had just come from.

 

=== Arafel ===

 

Arafel had taken refuge in a half collapsed building around the area his next target had been fighting. When he had arrived, it had been clear the fight was reaching its climax and Arafel was glad of the fact, the fight between the head of the Prideux family and the Guardian of the Spring Fae had been a messy one. Damn, I was hoping to get him before he died, now I’m going to have to pick a replacement. The best bet would be the one who beat him, but I’m not sure I want to go near that monster. He thought as he slid to a seated position behind a collapsed bit of roof, hiding him from view of the street. As he removed is beanie cap to run a hand through his hair, a sound from behind him made him freeze.

 

It had sounded like someone putting a body on the floor, nothing happened for a second then he heard a man curse quietly. Who the hell is that. Arafel thought as he moved as slowly as possible until he was peeking over the rubble he was hidden behind. He found himself looking at the back of his next target. Jinkama! I don’t know what you’re doing here, but this is perfect timing. I can get him and then decide how I’m going to replace Matt.

 

Jinkama was clearly distracted, muttering to himself as he rested on a window frame, looking out to the street where Jayden had just finished his fight, so Arafel moved as slow as possible until he was stood within arms reach of Jinkama. This told Arafel that the mage was properly distracted so he raised a hand and created a small golf ball sized spherical cog and lowered it slowly to insert into Jinkama’s back. As he reached within an inch, a golden flash lit up around Jinkama and Arafel was thrown backwards until he hit his collapse rubble. At the same time, Jinkama was blasted forward, out of the window, where he came slid to a stop on his feet and locked his gaze onto Arafel. Shit, I wasn’t expecting that to happen. Arafel thought as he flicked his hand forward and a thousand small smoky cogs generated from them and flew towards Jinkama.

 

=== Jinkama ===

 

As Willow’s effects faded from his body, Jinkama stretched off the previously afflicted limbs before hoping from foot to foot, testing out his balance; it was pretty perfect, as normal. He smiled as Willow replied positively to his idea, even if he had only been half serious, and then frowned when she was interrupted by the sound of intense thunder from behind him. Jinkama whipped around in time to hear the sound suddenly cut off, like someone had hit the off switch on a light. No, that can’t be right. He thought as he suddenly dashed off in the direction he had seen the lightning.

 

A very short time later he arrived at the end of a street with two figures stood at the other end; well, one was stood, the other was sprawled along the floor. Jinkama stood there, somewhat shocked to see a powerful mage like Matt reduced to the state he was in. In normal circumstances, he would never attack with emotion, instead maintaining his composure to fully utilize his skills; but he felt himself lose that control as his Aura sprung up around his body. He was ready to pound that fairy into the ground. However, before he could take one step, he felt a sharp sting across the back of his ankles and he stumbled forward before he realised that Willow had effectively cut his Achilles tendons.

 

For a brief second, he thought she had betrayed him, but as she placed him gently on the ground in a building to the side of the street, releasing her abilities as she left him alone, he realised she had probably saved his life. With a little effort he pulled himself to his knees and shuffled up to the window Willow had brought him through, to glance out to see what she was up to.

 

“What was I thinking? Rushing in to fight someone who just killed Matthew Prideux!†he clenched his feet at his side as he saw Jayden speaking to Willow. “I’m such a fool, but I can’t leave Willow to fight alone when she attacks; Jayden would rip her to pieces. But then again, he must be wounded from his battle with Matt, perhaps all he needs is a light tap to push him over the edge.†He grinned as he stood up, readying himself for his plan. As soon as Willow made her move, he would be upon Jayden like a hurricane with the hope that a couple of strike of full powered Aura would be enough to finish him off.

 

Suddenly he felt a strange shiver run along his back and with a flash of golden light, his Aura reacted to something trying to touch him in the back. Unlike with a normal attack, where his Aura would stop it dead and Jinkama would be free to turn around to confront his would-be assassin, whatever was used to attack him caused and explosion that sent Jinkama tumbling out into the street. He quickly corrected himself to his feet and looked up to see the Time Mage Ryuzaki had brought with him to the Prideux Mansion.

 

Did he just try to attack me from behind. He thought as a strange black mist started flying towards him. It took him a second to realised it was thousands of tiny black cogs but even as he started to move, one of them touched him and it felt like he was no longer in control of his body. Move, move, move! He thought as he watched Arafel disappear into the building but as he tried to move in pursuit, he felt like he was moving through really, really thick treacle.

 

Then whatever was stopping him disappeared and Jinkama stumbled forward, regaining his footing before falling over. He wanted to chase Arafel down, but he looked across at Jayden to see the fairy staring at him. I can’t exactly ignore him, I suppose. Willow should still be able to get a good first blow though. He thought.

 

=== Jayden ===

 

Jayden vaguely recognised the figure that was now staring him down, apparently decided whatever had caused the explosion was not as important as the fairy stood before him. He did a quick internal assessment and decided he really needed to return to the Cove and recuperate; maybe he wouldn’t even return. He turned away from this new golden arrival and took a couple of steps forward so Willow was between him and the man. As he did so, the substance covering his lower right leg shattered and fell to the ground.

 

“Willow, take him down for me.†He said and reached out to create a gateway to his realm, his focus now acutely away from the small girl at his side.

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----------Willow----------

Willow could hardly contain her frustration and rage at Jinkama. He exposed himself and, from her perspective, it looked like he wanted to instigate a fight with Jayden—something she didn't want. When Jayden told her to take on Jinkama so that he could go recover, she noticed that that would be her moment to strike. He turned his back to her and began to summon power to take him to a different realm—somehwere that he could recover from his recent battle.

 

As he turned his back, Willow moved quickly and without hesitation. In a brief moment her hand formed a spear and made a quick motion, passing completely through Jayden's chest. The moment her hand emerged she jumped back and landed roughly ten feet away. The entire motion took her toughly the amount of time it would take for a hair to fall from her head and strike the ground.

 

As Jayden turned, stunned by Willow's audacity and betrayl, he looked down to see a purple smudge spreading across his chest and Willow's hand squeezing—veins protruding, knuckles cracking, muscles bulging. She had punctured his heart and she was hoping that she would paralyze him with pain, so that Jinkama could come deliver a powerful strike.

 

A voice in the back of her head, however, was screaming that Jayden was not the person to be crossed in this manner.

 

----------Sookie----------

 

Sookie was near death, covered in blood, and carried Nahadoth's head in her hands. It was noteworthy, however, that the man she fought and the man she was friends with, were two entirely different people inhabiting the same body. The one she had fought with was Abaddon—a strange demon of eternal darkness that was imprisoned within the patriarch of Nahadoth's family. Sookie's hand was filled with it's long, black hair. The pale, white skin, was stained with blood and it was missing it's left eye. Long scratches marked the side of it's face.

 

She panted heavily while she waited for healing factor to fix her internal bleeding and slow the horrid throbs of pain in her knees, right elbow, and left shoulder. She had been thrown from a the top of a skyscrapper, landing directly on both her feet. The process called her to fracture all the bones from her knees down, then tear every ligament within them. Her elbow and shoulder were damaged elswhere during the fight, as was the hemorrhaging of her internal organs. Breathing deeply, tears welling in her eyes, she couldn't help but wish that she didn't need to kill him. Nahadoth had been a good friend to her, he, along with everyone else who she was here with, had helped her through a hard time in her life.

 

She stood up and felt her knees wobble—her powers as a werewolf would make it so that she could walk soon, however it was going to take a minute. She couldn't remember the last time she'd been pushed to that much of an extreme. Her blonde hair was matted to her head in several places with coagulated blood, and her body was covered in it. None of them were life threatening, to her anyway.

 

She was naked, however the cold wouldn't get to her. In fact, it felt good. After nearly fifteen minutes of standing and staring into Nahadoth's dead, lifeless remaining eye, she decided it was time to get going and help the others. Clearing her mind she empowered her werewolf state to enhance her sense of smell and she tried to identify her nearest ally and it was then that she felt the sudden bang and cut out of Matthew's powers.

 

It didn't take Sookie but a moment to shift into her wolf form and speed off in Matthew's general vicinity faster than most expensive Italian sports cars could. She was a large, eight hundred pound, blur of fangs, muscles, and white fur. The icy streets weren't even the slightest of hindrance to her movements. She could feel her body groan and the wounds that were beginning to heal reopen under the gruesome stress she was putting her body under right now. She knew she shouldn't be doing this, but what was she supposed to do, let Matthew die? No.

 

No, she wasn't going to lose anymore of her friends ever again. There was a time, years ago after Ryuk's death, that when someone close to her died she would just shrug it off and say “Shit happens.†But not anymore, she didn't realize until her more recent endeavors that the friends she'd made through her life—most of them all here—were priceless.

 

The closer she got, the more she could smell Mattthew's blood.

 

She could also identify by the scent trails leading there that Jinkama, Jayden, Arafel, and one other that she didn't recognize. When she got within visual distance what she saw turned her stomach. She caught a glimpse of Jinkama and Arafel which looked pretty suspicious to her—as if Arafel was planning to ambush Jinkama from the street. She quickly ruled it out, if Ryuzaki trusted him so did she. It was the the sight of Matthew that truly made her cringe. His body was a mess, hardly recognizeable as human anymore, and as she approached she could feel her rage consume her and she completely gave into her beast state.

 

She whizzed past Jinkama, scraping his side and knocking him slightly off balance, Jayden no doubt heard her approach—she feral growl burbled in her throat as he got closer—and this is when the strange girl dressed in black attacked him. When he was slightly stunned with pain, Sookie swept in and ripped Jayden to shreds.

 

She lowered her body and before he could react had his enter left knee in her mouth, her jaws crushed through what was left of his armor and bit deep into flesh and bone—the test of his fairy blood filled her mouth and oozed from the sides. She whipped her head to the side furiously to counter act her momentum—she didn't want to drag Jayden with him, her plan was to strike fast and get out of dodge. When she snapped her head in the oppisite direction, it sent Jayden's body into the hard pavement. She had put all of her power into that first bite, she had even chipped some of her teeth and left them embedded into his bone.

 

As she skidded back she transformed back into her semi-human state. Her blonde hair turned white, hands became claws, and her muscles bulged. She looked like hell—bloody, beaten, and the complete picture of rage. As Jayden went to get up,

 

----------Misa----------

 

Misa jumped from the top of the building that Arafel and Jinkama were hiding in. In her right hand she held her Arabian falchion and in her left she had her kukri. Her tan Arab skin and her dark black gouchos and black tank top were in sharp contrast to the white snow. She had landed between Jinkama and Arafel, whom she knew was still in the building.

 

She had been tailing him for sometime now, from the shadows she had watched him abduct Elle and Zane. Her previous suspicions not to trust him were true and, unlike some of her ally's, she had no issue separating emotion from action. She wasn't willing to jump into a fight with Arafel just yet, he had demonstrated strange powers that she had no comprehension of. For someone such as her that fought mostly physically, she couldn't afford to rush into a magical trap.

 

That didn't mean, however that she wasn't fuming mad. Matthew, somehow whom had provided sanctuary to her on multiple occasions, was now slaughtered and two young, promising sorecerers that she'd previously fought alongside of were strangely trapped within Arafel's magic. She had already convinced herself that she would wait to release her anger, though, until Arafel was tied up in a chair and she could torture him slowly, appropriately.

 

Her voice was crisp and her red demonic aura swirled around her as she stepped into the building, “I promise to you that you will pay dearly for this betrayal,†Her accent was thick and her emotion and blood lust made it increasingly difficult for her to understand, “Before I was turned I learned much about torture and interrogation from my people—we were very creative.†Her fangs clicked as she hissed through her teeth, she sheathed her kukri and placed both hands on her falchion, “There are very few things in life that I cherish more than those friends you've taken.†Her eyes flashed completely red, “I'm going to skin you slowly, and only when you give them back to me will I kill you. Either way you will not leave this building until you are dead.†She leveled her sword at Arafel and prepared to lunge forward.

 

–--------Ariel/Elizabeth----------

 

Elizabeth couldn't get her body to move. She had been looking down on Matthew's body for roughly three seconds, however to her it felt like a lifetime. Ariel was still at her side, eyes cold as she took in Matthew's lifeless body. She was still having trouble grasping the fact that she'd lost her right hand, however right now she wasn't complaining, she'd much rather be missing a hand than her life. Elizabeth had become one of her best friends, and as a result she had spent a lot of time living at the Prideux estate, getting very close to Matthew and their entire family. Needless to say, seeing Matthew dead, hurt her nearly as bad as it did Elizabeth.

 

Elizabeth's face was covered in tears. She knew deep down that she shouldn't be upset, she knew that Matthew died fighting for a good cause, that he knew the risks when he left with Ryuzaki. She also knew that now there would be no one to come save her anymore, there would be no one to help her train, and there would be one less person at the family estate. Strangely enough she didn't want revenge. All she really wanted to do was finish this war and go home to help rebuild the world.

 

Ariel, however, wanted nothing but revenge.

 

She walked next to Sookie and each of them glared at the Jayden who laid on the ground. Ariel spoke to him, “I wish,†Her voice was filled with rage and as it spoke something else rasped out, an ancient voice of something much older, much stranger, much stronger than the body of the seven year old she possessed, “I wish I was strong enough to have defeated you back then.†Jayden turned his head towards her, she noticed a strange purple smudge on his chest, then she noticed the girl dressed in back standing a good distance away from them, “If I had done so then you could have never taken my friends life.†A strange voice escaped her lips. One that wasn't human, one that couldn't be produced with the vocal cords of any species of animal—human or otherwise. As it did the ground under Jayden wrapped him in dirt and then raised him up, spreading him eagle. It moved outwards to clear his torso, head, and thighs. It then became a hard metallic substance that stretched to the ground and imprisoned him.

 

The small girl in back didn't engage Ariel or Sookie, and they both watched her warily. Her hand was covered in a purple haze that matched the blotch on Jayden's chest. “As much as I want to kill you,†Ariel spoke to the severly weakened Jayden, “Your life isn't mine to take.†She walked towards the new girl whom she'd never met and as she did the earth physically quaked beneath her as odd words bubbled forth from her mouth. Her eyes went white and the air physically thickened and lifted her up off the ground.

 

----------Ezralda----------

 

Ezralda watched as Ryuzaki transformed and sly smile swept across her face. When he spoke of the darkness she felt herself become excited. She had never been able to put her powers to test like she will now. It was fortunate that Ryuzaki had jumped back, she had expected her attacks to leave a more lasting effect, severely underestimating his healing factor. The darkness consumed the stadium in an ominous, strange way. And Ezralda felt strangely comforted by it. The cold normally accompanied the dark. It was fitting that they would fight each other. As she was about to speak she felt something snap. As if a part of her was ripped away and she was left not quite whole.

 

Her Winter Knight had just lost his life.

 

It was weird. She had come to terms with Nahadoth's loss years ago, when the actual Nahadoth gave away his consciousness to the demon inside of him so that Ezralda could win her battle against the forces of Summer. However it still felt good having the constant reminder of with her at her side. Now he was completely gone and there wasn't anything she could do to stop him. Something in her plan had gone wrong. They had never planned for Ryuzaki to be alive.

 

She screamed.

 

The force of her scream was immense, it released enough power and concussive force to have a blast radius of a nuclear missile. It would leave ears ringing and knock the wind out of anyone in the area. Water and ice swirled to her, wrapping around her, lifting her into the air. From her back sprouted long arms of water, eight of them, like a spider. Ryuzaki watched her, unphased by her sudden outburst. It was clear that she had completely lost her mind at this point.

 

She had gone mad with power, that much was previously known. The loss of Nahadoth was too much for her to handle, he was the one person who kept her sane, kept her goals in perspective. Had he—the old Nahadoth—been alive none of this would have happened.

 

She struck out at Ryuzaki, reckless and uncaring, the arms of water from her back that suspended her in the air shot at untraceable speeds, the ends hardening like swords of ice. The nearer they got to him, they began to split and branch off, creating a web of incoming swords of ice and water.

 

From the distance, an angry tear rolled down Ezralda's cheek.

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=== Bylae ===

 

The strange double-breed, a unique individual as far as Bylae was concerned, hung limp as the lack of air rendered him unconscious. Hiro had been like a cockroach, scurrying around and refusing to die; so Bylae had decided the best course of action would be to simply knock him out of the fight. Using his Dragon biology, Bylae didn’t need to breathe a high amount of air to keep himself fighting fit, unfortunately for Hiro, the double-breed did. So now Bylae held him by the throat in his massive claws, deciding whether to tear his head off or not.

 

After a minute or so he decided that Hiro wasn’t really a threat to either him or Ezralda and so decided to let him live; well, assuming he could survive the fall. Bylae released his grip from around Hiro’s neck and let him fall away, disappearing into the distance quickly.

 

With that done, Bylae used his powerful wings and propelled himself back down towards the city at full speed. As he descended, he saw a spot as black as night around where the stadium should be. The waves of menace and power coming off it told him it was probably where Ezralda was, so he thought it’d be better to steer clear of it. Now he was closer to the city, he could see that the battle was starting to want. There were a lot less clashes of great power going on and there seemed to be a gathering of some sort in one of the streets.

 

“That looks like a party.†He said as he swooped in over the heads of various people before landing in front of a figure encased in some sort of steel prison. He glanced behind him to see that it was Jayden. “Looks like you’re in a bit of a pinch there. I’ll repay the favour of transporting me here at the start.†He spread his wings wide and turned to the others in the group, none of which he recognised as part of Ezralda’s allies. “So, who wants to die first.†A small lick of flame escaped the side of his mouth as he talked.

 

=== Rydon ===

 

“You’re…stronger then…the last time…we met.†Rydon struggled to say, as blood started leaking from the corner of his mouth. “Looks like...I’m…not.â€

 

Rydon’s upper body and arms were covered in scratches and bruises Cern had dealt to him during their fight. Most notable, two large swords that were currently pierced through his stomach, courtesy of Cern’s weapon magic.  Rydon was currently holding tight onto Cern’s wrists with his left hand to prevent him pulling the weapons free, Rydon didn’t want to die of blood loss quite yet. His right hand, however, was the reason Cern wasn’t currently overpowering Rydon’s weakening body.

 

In his right hand he held his final remaining Sword Heart, the others lying broken around him after being destroyed by Cern’s destruction magic, and he held the point where the blade would generate to Cern’s jugular. “All I need to do is think it, and then I can slice your head off. The question you need to ask yourself is this; which Sword Heart is it?†Rydon smiled and started gathering his magic slowing; he needed to time it just right if he wanted to succeed.

 

=== Jin ===

 

Jin’s smirk was frozen on his face, literally, with ice. The ice covered the left side of his head, flowed down his neck, and finished by running along his shoulder. Frost also ran down the metal of his left arm, making it hard for him to move it easily. As well as that, the upper right half of the tight vest he wore had been burnt away completely, and there were a number of cuts in his trousers. Not that he cared for any of that right at this point in time.

 

His opponent, who had identified himself simply as Jack when they had begun, was lying on the floor, partially covered in snow; his neck broken and a vacant look in his eyes. Suddenly he jerked to a sitting position and his neck clicked back into the correct position as he moved it around to check. Jack then stood up and picked up the two swords that were lying on the ground next to him, holding them loosely by his side. Jin’s own sword was lying at his feet.

 

“You are really fucking hard to kill, do you fucking know that?†Jin said, breaking the ice around his head with a sharp tap from his free hand.

 

“Well, what can I say.†Jack replied, shrugging his shoulders.

 

“Fucking nothing.†Jin replied and accelerated forward harshly, sending a wave of snow out behind him.

 

Jack reacted quickly and swung his right hand sword, trailing vapour in an arc, but Jin caught the blade with his metallic arm, stopping the attack dead. Immediately, however, the metal began to freeze as it had been before and Jin knew he couldn’t hold on to it for long. Jack’s second sword swung down from above, trailing flickering flame, and lodged itself about a centimetre into Jin’s thick skinned shoulder. Jin smiled again and hooked his right arm around the top of the fiery blade, and pulled down sharply.

 

The blade snapped like a twig, to the surprise of Jack, and Jin pulled the top half of the blade free of his shoulder and swung it down into the base of the first sword. Whatever magic it used to keep aflame was maintained even after having been broken and the flames reacted with the ice with the result of the ice blade shattering like glass. Jin tore his metal hand free of the blade and clamped it around Jack’s head, his right hand following suite so he had a clamp around the immortal.

 

“I don’t know how immortal you are but I should think crushing your head like a melon should suffice for the time being.†He said as he began to squeeze, his giant strength easily starting to cave the human skull in his grasp. A sudden impact into his left side of his stomach caused Jin to look down and see his own sword pierced through him. At first he was unconcerned, it was a flesh wound at worst, but the he realised what exactly the blade and gone through. He released his real hand from Jack’s head, still gripping it with the metal one, and pulled away his black vest to reveal his bare torso. What he saw made him grimace.

 

The sword had pierced through the centre of the Fairy Stone embedded in his side. It was an object of immense power he had acquired many years ago and he didn’t know there was anything in the world that could damage it. But he could see that the blade passed through hit completely and cracks had spread across it’s surface. Even as he watched it, it’s energy coursed through his body uncontrollably and he realised what was going to happen.

 

“I doubt even you will be able to survive an explosion of the object embedded in me.†Jin said to Jack, still gradually increasing the pressure on his skull. “Fuck, even I don’t know how big or powerful the explosion will be. Maybe it’ll even kill the fucking bitch-whore of a fairy-fuck, Ezralda. But I better make sure you can’t run away either.†Jack’s eyes widened as Jin increased his squeezing quickly and his head collapsed like paper mâché. Jin let the body fall to the floor and stumbled back before tripping over and landing on his back in the snow.

 

The orange energy of the stone was pulsing around his body, causing small beams of light to shoot out in random directions, and Jin knew he only had a couple of seconds left. “Shit, I wasn’t planning on dying here.†He said just as the stone reached critical and exploded in a dome of energy that destroyed anything it came into contact with.

 

=== Jensen ===

 

Jensen and Coldsnap were standing a couple of metres apart, staring each down as they surveyed their wounds. Well, he couldn’t speak for Coldsnap, but Jensen was certainly checking to make sure he had received nothing mortal; which he hadn’t, despite Coldsnap’s impressive strength that combated Jensen’s Creation mode. However, Jensen couldn’t help but think that the fight was about to end; fast. His compatibility level with the Creationist abilities granted to him by Gaia had just reached 100%.

 

A black circle appeared around him, floating at waist height, and started to spin rapidly before expanding until it held both Jensen and Coldsnap within it’s grasp. Coldsnap watched the circle carefully, but Jensen simply smiled and held out his hands.

 

“Don’t worry, this isn’t my attack.†He said with his strange dual voice, his own overlapped by that of a mature woman. After he spoke numerous black bars appeared out of the circle and moved up and down until the pair of them were encased within a sphere of blackness; yet there was still somehow enough light for the both of them to see each other without trouble. “Nor is this.†Jensen said.

 

The light in the strange area increased until it was as bright as the sun in the open desert. Following that flow, sand appeared at their feet until a desert that looked infinitely wide appeared around them.  Coldsnap looked around, clearly confused and Jensen couldn’t help but chuckle.

 

“I can only hold this for about a minute, so you’ll forgive me if my explanation is brief. I can create anything with my power; so I welcome you to this pocket dimension. It is an infinite space and so completely controlled by me I might as well call myself God. Now, I’m afraid I must kill you to finish this.†He raised his hand towards Coldsnap, who immediately jumped back to create distance.

 

That didn’t seem to help though as the sand beneath his feet started to turn like water and thick metal lances rose out to surround Coldsnap. They were about a foot wide at the widest part, funnelling into a wicked point, and were glowing red hot with the heat. Flames jumped across their lengths and suddenly the lances caught fire; adding more to the pile Jensen completed surrounded Coldsnap in all directions.

 

Without a word, he turned his hand and closed it into a fist, sending the flaming superhot lances towards Coldsnap.

 

=== Michael ===

 

Michael pressed his left hand against stump that now resided below his right elbow, searing the blood y wound shut with his flames. The multi-coloured ball of flame that had been been floating in front of him dispersed and he couldn’t help but frown. It was shame it had been the right arm he had lost, the spells needed to control the particular flames he had been summoning were carved into the skin of it. It didn’t help he had rather underestimated Nyx’s abilities to attack him. But then again, he had hit her hard as well so the fight was not unbalanced.

 

His estimates had been correct, however, in that she was bout on the same power level as Jayden and judging by the sudden lack of his power, Michael assumed Matthew had been beaten in combat. It upset him, perhaps even angered him, but Michael couldn’t lose control of his emotions at this point in time; Nyx would tear him to pieces.  Instead, he focused on how he was going to deal with Nyx in order to take her out of the battle.

 

He could only think of one way of accomplishing this without drawing her into a long, intense battle and it only had one drawback. It would mean he was no longer in the battle as well. Michael hesitated in making the decision, because Jayden was still around, he could sense him now. But then again, he was severely weakened and Ariel and Jinkama were there, so he could always leave them to it. Even then, even if all of them were somehow defeated, Ryuzaki would finish off any of Ezralda’s allies still around; of that he had no doubt and so his decision was made.

 

While Michael had been running through his options, Nyx seemed to have been thinking carefully as well, probably cautious now Michael had actually wounded her. He smiled beneath his goggles and lifted his left hand, Nyx braced but nothing happened except a single solitary flame appeared above Michael’s head. A second one appeared to his left, then one by his left foot, then one by his right foot, then one on his right.  These five small flames pulsed and a line of fire connected them to create a pentagram that hovered behind his back. A solitary sphere of flame then appeared, bouncing lightly in the centre of the pentagram.

 

The next time Nyx touched him would be the end of her time in this battle.

 

=== Arafel ===

 

Arafel turned around slowly to face Misa, who had appeared unexpectedly from above. He didn’t need her declaration for him to realise that she knew he was up to something, and he could see it in her eyes that she would do everything she said she would. He was going to have to be very careful now if he wanted to survive the next few minutes, and the easiest way to do that would be to capture Misa and take her out of the way. It was going to be challenging, capturing an aware vampire would be a pain in the arse seeing as his physical abilities were on par with the humans he was part of.

 

His best way to achieve this was to get Misa to touch him, skin contact always worked best for this particular type of his magic, so he first needed to get her weapons out of the way; which should be simple, if Misa behaved like he suspected she would. Arafel could already see the caution in her eyes; clearly she was suspicious of his magic seeing as her knowledge was probably only what he himself had shown her back at the mansion.

 

Arafel activated his magic, silent as it was and the fact it was behind his back, he guessed Misa wouldn’t notice, and created two small cogs that hovered behind his back. Then, he raised his hands slowly and got onto his knees.

 

“I’m not going to fight you, Misa. My plan hinged on being covert, I can’t hope to fight you one-on-one. Just know this…I will not free them, not ever; they will be trapped in eternity.†He lied, looking defiantly into her eyes.

 

As he expected, anger welled up in her eyes and she sheathed the kukri blade in her left hand before striding forward, clearly intent to seize him around the throat. When she was within a step’s distance, a hand outstretched, Arafel lunged forward and made out he was going to strike her in her left side. Again as expected, she was too fast for him and her left hand grabbed his fist and her sword swung down towards his neck. Knowing she didn’t plan to kill him, he still believed every word she had told him moments ago, Arafel stepped into the swing and he felt it slice into his left shoulder.

 

She followed his expectations and stopped the blade short, leaving it only millimetres into his skin, drawing a small dribble of blood. “Didn’t I say I’m going to make you feel pain? Don’t think you can get me to kill you.â€

 

“Misa…†he said slowly and instantly her eyes grew suspicious again.  â€œâ€¦so it’s the falchion first.†Suddenly black smoke started to stream from Arafel’s cut and surround Misa’s sword. She pulled it away but the smoke stuck to it like glue, refusing to let go. She immediately dropped it, correctly guessing if the smoke touched her things would turn sour, and watched as it rusted, blackened, and then was reduced to dust in mere seconds. “I hope that wasn’t expensive.†Arafel said as he stood up slowly.

 

Misa drew her Kukri blade again but didn’t immediately attack, even more cautious then she had been before. Arafel smiled and adjusted the beanie cap on his head. “Too late to be cautious, Misa, we’re already connected.†He held up his right fist, the one she had caught, and a thin tendril of smoke led off to it and connected to Misa’s left hand. Immediately she tried to pull away but found she could not move; or rather, she could move but only incredibly slowly.

 

Arafel strolled up to her and placed a hand on her shoulder, smiling politely as he raised his left hand with the index finger extended. As the small golf-ball sized sphere-cog appeared above it, Misa’s face started to turn to pure anger. It never got that far as Arafel pushed the sphere into her forehead and it expanded and contracted in a millisecond, trapping Misa inside. Arafel held the sphere in his hand and shook his head ruefully.

 

“You think me a traitor, I suppose. But that descriptor is not entirely true.†He pushed the sphere into his chest where it joined the prisons of Zane and Ellie.

 

=== Jayden ===

 

Jayden more sensed then felt the hand as it passed through his chest. He reacted immediately, sweeping his arm back to grab at Willow, but the girl was well out of his reach even before he had been half way there. Suddenly it felt like someone had grabbed his heart and started squeezing with all their might and Jayden couldn’t help but fall to one knee, clutching at it in vain.  He looked up again at Willow and saw her squeezing her hand tight; just as if she was trying to crush someone’s heart.

 

With no idea what Willow’s ability was, Jayden wasn’t sure how to combat what she was doing to him and then he realised something was off with the pain. Rather, his body wasn’t reacted biologically as it would if someone had a hold of his heart and was squeezing. The only physical reaction he had was the strange smudge that matched in colour to the aura surrounding Willow’s hand. Some kind of mind attack, then? He thought, struggling to his feet, clenching his teeth hard to prevent calling out. She’s actually turned to the other side, betraying Ezralda? He took a step towards Willow but had to stop as she squeezed harder.

 

He was about to speak when he felt a disturbance in the air and looked down the road, near to where Jinkama was stood, and saw a white wolf dashing towards him with a growl on her lips. Nahadoth lost? Was his only thought before the wolf was upon him with her jaw clamped around his left knee. Given the fact that Willow was still attacking him, and his battle with Matthew had nearly wiped him out, Jayden gritted his teeth to take the attack even as his blood flowed in her mouth. Luckily Sookie seemed to be going for a hit and run and shook him free of her attack.

 

However, Jayden lost his footing and tumbled to the ground, ending up on his hands and knees, still fighting the pain in his chest. I can deal with this, it’s mind over matter, I can deal with this! He thought as he focused to try and dull the pain enough for him to stand up and defend himself. Not that he ever got the chance as another person turned up, Ariel, and spoke her words of magic that forced the ground around him before lifting him up and trapping him in a strange steel-like substance.

 

This is bad. He thought even as he managed to get a smile out, finally getting control of the pain in his chest. “You think children like you can kill me?†his crystalline form had fully disappeared now, leaving him in his denim shorts. “Oh, I know you’re older than you look, Ariel, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a child. I should kill you all wear you stand.†He said, thinking desperately of a way to escape the prison he was in. A shadow from above suddenly appeared and he looked up to see the Tatsujin warrior, Bylae, swooping down and landing in front of him.

 

“Looks like you’re in a bit of a pinch there. I’ll repay the favour of transporting me here at the start. So, who wants to die first?†Bylae was facing the others with his wings spread wide, his teeth glinting like the snow beneath his feet.

 

“Back off, Bylae, before I put you in the ground like I will do to the enemies of her majesty.†Jayden sneered, finally coming up with a way to escape. Nature magic was the easiest to use since it wasn’t powered by his internal sources, so he could summon tiny roots to creep into the prison holding him and rip it apart from the inside out. However, he was about to discover he wouldn’t need to.

 

Before Bylae could retort an explosion rocked the city, shaking debris loose from above, knocking over smaller buildings and Jayden saw an expanding dome appear in the distance; on the other side of the city. At first he thought it was some kind of nuclear device but there was no-one left who could deploy that sort of thing and it wasn’t really Ryuzaki’s allies’ style. Then the wave of wind, as strong as a hurricane, passed over him and he realised that it was composed of pure fairy energy. All four Fae powers were melded into one, but all Jayden was concerned with was the Spring Fairy energy he could tap into; and tap into he could.

 

With a deep breath he opened up his reserves and he suddenly felt the energy of his kind fill him from head-to-toe. Like he had slept for a couple of days to regain his energy, like he had never fought Matthew at all. Then it stopped, the explosion gone as it lost its’ force now Jayden had absorbed part of its life, and Jayden couldn’t help but smirk. With a roar and a burst of fire, the metal around him melted away and Jayden dropped to the floor with a light bounce. He wasn’t at 100% but he had been revitalised and was now sure he could occupy the gathered forces against him.

 

But first, I’ve got another problem to deal with. He thought as he walked up behind Bylae. Tatsujin folded his wings and turned to face Jayden with a smile. A smile that was quickly wiped off as Jayden punched him in the head. Bylae went down like a sack of potatoes and when he came to a stop, his armoured skin and wings seemed to melt off him and form into a small white dragon. The dragon started screeching but Jayden didn’t let it do anything as he stepped in and broke the dragon’s neck with a single squeeze of his hand. Once that was done, he turned back to the others gathered, Ariel floating in the air, and rolled his shoulders.

 

“Seems like I’ve been rejuvenated, I don’t know who I need to thank but it was extremely well timed. You sure you want to fight me now?†He said, somewhat bluffing as he felt his power leaking quickly, like a battery with a duff charge. If he wanted to deal with the gathered forces in front of him, he was going to have to be quick about it.

 

=== Ryuzaki ===

 

Seems like Sookie wins. Ryuzaki thought as Ezralda screamed with the force of a bomb. With Nahadoth down, she might finally let her guard down. He watched carefully as she attacked in her rage, the deadly ice blades bearing down on him with immense speed. Deadly being the operative word; Ryuzaki’s current form allowed him access to the primordial powers of the Master Vampire’s but it came with a single, distinct con; his healing factor was greatly reduced. No longer would he be able to heal life threatening wounds in mere seconds, and no longer could he just casually crash his way through Ezralda’s attacks. However, this was not to say he was helpless now.

 

The ice blades came within inches of him, but he didn’t move. Then they were within centimetres, but he didn’t move. Then they were within millimetres, but he still didn’t move. Then only the width of a single human hair stood between Ryuzaki and instant death, and only then did he move. He only took a single step, as if stepping around a person on a sidewalk, but he appeared on Ezralda’s other side. As he moved, he trailed a black smoke that joined the darkness that encompassed the stadium. The ice blades passed through this darkness and pierced into the ground where he had been stood.

 

Even then, Ryuzaki felt a small sting on his right arm and glanced down to see a thin cut running the width of it. Damn they’re fast, faster than she can move herself. He thought as move blades appeared in front of him and shot forwards. This time he left a little more room and appeared on Ezralda’s left; nothing scratched him this time. Ezralda whipped her arm out and one of the water arms stretched to the length of the stadium and swept round towards him. As it moved it formed into an icy sword, and then split into thousands more that rose up like a wall.

 

Ryuzaki jumped into the air, and with a quick spin landed so his feet touched the top of the blades. He didn’t stay for long, the little grip wouldn’t sustain him if he spun around, and used it as leverage to dash towards Ezralda. She turned to face him with her hand outstretched and a thousand tiny needles of ice fired off quickly. Ryuzaki crossed his arms in front of his face and let them pierce into his skin, where they stuck fast, and then spun around to deliver a powerful kick to Ezralda’s head.

 

The Winter Queen had seen the move coming and blocked the attack with a water spout that fired up from one of her arms. Ryuzaki’s momentum still carried him forward, however, and Ezralda used it to pierce him through the right hand side of his chest. Ryuzaki cried out in pain and then his body seemed to fade before dispersing into the cloudy black smog. Ezralda’s face turned to one of surprise as the darkness below her lightened by a fraction and Ryuzaki appeared below her, his hand grasped tightly around her right ankle.

 

“Got you!†he said with a grin, as his muscles tensed before he pulled Ezralda from her perch and slammed her, back first, into the ground. Her brief moment of shock gave Ryuzaki his chance and he knelt on her stomach before wrapping his left hand around her throat in his steel grip.  His right hand formed a spear and he aimed a blow at the dot-wound he had given Ezralda at the beginning of the fight.

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---------Cern----------

 

Cern's hands and arms were shaky—exhausted from the constant grip of his swords, from the constant swinging, Rydon's blood covered his hands and arms, getting between his fingers and hands, dripping to the floor. With a few deep breaths he calmed them, gathering his will and strength, remembering the frozen Ellie, laying dead and frozen on the ground. The moment he lunged after Rydon, he made the decision that it didn't matter if he made it out alive or not—all that mattered was Rydon was dead.

 

Cern laughed though, when Rydon said he'd become stronger, “I haven't grown stronger, or learned anything new in years, brah'.†He slightly twisted the swords in Rydon's stomach, he was satisfied with the groan of pain he got. “It's fuckin' crazy, when you don't kill your friends and family to make bullshit weapons like your gay-ass sword of hearts—which by the way are pussy shit—then you'd probably get the same feeling.†He could feel Rydon's blood drip onto his shoes and begin to seap through, the obnoxiously colored basketball shoes he was wearing weren't really suited for combat, but damn did they make him look bad ass.

 

“I always tend to move faster, swing harder, last longer, when I know my friends need me.†Cern didn't really know why he was saying these things, he knew they wouldn’t made a difference. He just wanted someone to pour his emotions on, seeing Ellie like that was pretty rough, they all knew the risks but he hadn't expected her to go down. The younger and inexperienced—Elizabeth, Elijah, Zane, Ellie—were supposed to stick around with the powerhouses of the group. At least that was the plan before Ezralda did the whole really-weird-switching-dimmensions-and-giving-everyone-nausea-thing. But it didn't matter, now Ellie—and who knows who else—was dead.

 

The smirk left Cern's face as Rydon played the ace he had up his sleeve, it looked like a stalemate. The blade was pointed at his jugular and he still had no idea just how Rydon's powers worked. Rydon wasn't the type to flinch either, with inexperienced fighters maybe he could have dodged down, or move in a way that he blade would leave a glancing blow, however not with this man. No, Rydon may be losing at the moment, but hew as no amateur and he his reactions were just as fast as Cern's.

 

“Fuck you.†Cern spat at Rydon, “And fuck Ezralda.†He was fully expected to die at that moment, he would jump back, though, but he was almost positive that it wouldn't do him any good, at such close range there wasn't anything Cern could think of that could save him. He flexed his muscles and Rydon must have mentally conjured his will into the blade because Cern could feel the energy welling up inside. The whole world slowed down, or so it seemed, for that brief second—no not a second, less than a second, maybe a millisecond.

 

A sly smile crossed his face and all worry vanished from him.

 

As Rydon's Sword Heart formed and had a clear, direct route to Cern's throat, it smashed, there wasn't so much as a centimeter between Cern's throbbing artery and Rydon's strange blade when a small emerald green circle, appeared in front of it. The circle was hardly the circumference of a coffee cup and was completely unsymmetrical. Its sides were wobbly and shaped like an amoeba. It didn't stop Rydons attack, it just slowed it down and got in its way enough to give Cern a half-second to dodge it. He didn't jump, instead he jumped forward, digging the swords deeper until his face was literally touching the side of Rydon's. Rydon spit up blood and Cern could hear him gurgle as his internal organs ruptured and he bled to death.

 

“I wasn't strong enough to beat you Rydon,†He said quietly into his ear, “I didn't have to be.â€

He looked at Elijah and their eyes met. Eli had definitely seen better days. His long broadsword was sheathed at his side, the strange chainmail glove he wore was broken and falling apart, the chains separating and expelling his green energy in random bursts and sparks. He wasn't wearing his green coat anymore. The dark green combat vest he had been previously wearing was tattered, ripped, and burned. His leg definitely suffered a bad wound, he had a make shift bandage made out his pantleg that he ripped off—revealing his bare right thigh, dried blood covering it. His face was beat up as well, a dark black eye, his lip split all the way up to his nose in one jagged cut, and he had a large bruise at the top of his forehead.

 

He still looked better than Calamity, though. She was definitely dead, there was a gaping hole where the left side of her stomach should be and it looked like someone had taken a belt sander to the right side of her face. Elijah set her down gently on the ground. He was a trooper, Cern had to give him that, not many people could still get up and move like he could after having been through such an ass-whooping as they just had.

 

The blades disappeared from Cern's hands and Rydon's body fell to the ground, lifeless. Cern rushed over to Eli, Cern had definitely seen better days but all in all this wasn't the worst fight he was in, and he may be exhausted and scratched up, but he'd had to do much more complicated functions with less before. He'd survive for the time being.

 

“Damn,†Elijah said, panting, “cut that one close.â€

Cern smiled at his friend, “Yah, buddy, we sure did.†He glanced at Calamity, he didn't know her but he still didn't like seeing anyone of his allies dead. “She wasn't as lucky as I was.â€

“She sacrificed herself to give me the chance to slay those damn demons, barely though.â€

“Shit. We need to go, though, we can set up a triage or field hospital or something in a building somewhere.†Cern wasn't sure if anyone else was as messed up as Elijah, but there was a good chance they were. “I don't know if you could feel it, but all that great power that was being thrown around had dwindled. A lot.†His face got dark, “I don't doubt we've lost a few good friends. Can you make a gate and get us out of here and to Elizabeth? I know you guys have that connection worked into enchantments.â€

“Yah, I'll try, but we only get one shot and I can maybe hold it open for half a second.†Even as he spoke Cern could see he could barely stand, “I'm pretty worn down.â€

 

He outstretched his hand, the one that wasn't wearing the chain-mail glove, and a small gate opened. It was roughly the size of a car door—misshapen, wobbly, unstable. Through they could make out a few figures. Cern grabbed Elijah just as he was about to pass out and jumped through before the portal could close. He landed on his back, jumping to his feet quickly as he noticed what was happening. He saw Jayden, radiating power. He saw Sookie, beat up and barely standing. He saw Ariel, missing her right hand, blood dripping from the dirty bandages she had used to stop the bleeding; staining the white snow of the street red.

 

Then he saw Matt.

 

“Fuck.†His voice croaked. “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.†Matt's body was broken, bruised, and burnt. There was hardly any clothing left on his torso and legs, a long smear of blood led Cern to the conclusion that he was thrown a great distance and his body rolled over the hard, cold asphalt of the road. His leg wasn't a leg. At least, if it wasn't for the placement of it on his body you wouldn't be able to tell. His arm was the same. It's weird, really, you never quite realize just how much blood is in a human body until you see it splayed in front of you. More than seventy-five percent of Matt's blood was on the street. Elizabeth was bent over, on her hands and knees, in the puddle of Matthew's blood and broken bones, crying. She looked over and saw Elijah, he had fallen unconscious. At the sight of him, Elizabeth snapped.

 

----------Elizabeth/Ariel/Sookie/Elijah----------

Matthew was dead. Elijah looked like death. Cern looked exhausted and beaten. Sookie was so worn down that her werewolf powers completely left her, focusing solely on healing or else she'd collapse and die—which mean that she had seen a rough fight and wouldn't last another. Ariel lost her hand—she lost her fucking hand, protecting me. She stood up, her hands and knees still covered in Matthew's blood. Her eyes still filled with tears, Matthew was like her big brother. And I barely have a fucking scratch on me. Ariel lost her hand saving me. And here I am, while my friends—no my fucking family—can barely stand, crying.

 

“Fuck this.†She positioned herself staring directly into Jayden's eyes, her hands cupped into a circle in front of her, standing isoceles, her enchanted necklace in the center of her hands. “And fuck you, Jayden!†She screamed the last words and as she did her voice became the thunder that was roaring the sky's. At the end of her words, a tremendous beam of purple lightning blasted from her necklace, sending her flying backwards. Everyone was shocked, they knew that Elizabeth wouldn't last a minute against him, but they also knew that Jayden could, at his current state, wipe the floor with all of them. Ariel, however was the only one who knew what she was doing. They all knew that he couldn't get away with killing Matthew, and if Elizabeth did nothing he would have.

 

As she flew back, she readjusted herself in the air to land of her feet, skidding to a stop, barely maintaining her balance on the ice. She didn't know if this would work, she wasn't finished with it yet. To use her enchantment now would most likely have dire consequences for her. However, she knew that if she didn't do this now, she would never be able to avenge Matthew, like he deserved. Like he would have done for her. The beam of light struck Jayden and he didn't even flench. He knew just what to expect from Elizabeth, she was weak compared to him. Elizabeth throwing lightning on Jayden was like throwing water on a fish—if anything it helped him.

 

However this wasn't what he was expecting.

 

He held out his hands and caught it, as if it were a javelin or a normal arrow. After he held it in his hands for a few seconds, the lightning exploded in a brilliant flash of whitish-purple light. Needless to say he was not amused. Elizabeth immediately began stage two of her enchantment, the second her first blast from her necklace found its mark, was the second she needed to begin summoning her bow.

 

She ripped the necklace from her neck and it broke free easily, just as she had designed it to do. The moment she did was the moment that Ariel held her breath, and Elijah stirred back to consciousness to be shocked and croak out a moan of complaint, begging her not to use it. The dangling necklace in her hand suddenly became a large, bow made of very dark, very ancient, and very mystical wood. It wasn't fancy, it was just slick and clean, white leather was wrapped around the handle and the string was a simple, elegant line of perfectly straight purple lightning. On her back was a quill filled with exactly four, steel, arrows in it.

 

She took a deep breath, focusing, summoning her power and activating the more difficult parts of her enchantment. The precious gem that was in the center of her necklace was now embedded into the center of her head, from it glowing purple veins spreading out across her forehead. Where her hand gripped the bow, also had a similar effect. The veins of purple energy spread out flowing all the way up to her forearms, thinning out on her biceps but still leaving a faint glow. On her left arm there were hundreds of thousands of tiny runes, each glowing purple. She opened her closed eyes and they glowed purple, so bright that not even a supernatural being could look directly into them and not have their corneas slightly burnt.

 

The second Elizabeth began casting her enchantments and imbuing her necklace with power, Ariel wanted to slap her—that spell was nowhere near ready, sure it was “completed†per say, but that didn't mean it held up to the rigorous tests that something of that magnitude needed.

 

Elizabeth had been building it since she was a young girl, that much Ariel knew. She'd always been blessed with a bow, so it only made sense that she model her most powerful enchantment and lifelong work after one. When she neared its final stages and began toying with it she sought out Ariel, and it was over that that they bonded and became friends. Ariel has an intellect of that magical world that is umatched by almost anything, there's no spell that she can't unravel or decipher—and when she saw the potential behind Elizabeth's nekclace she couldn't resist. The amount that she got done by herself was astounding. To put it in more simpler terms, without gettting into the strange thermodynamics and physics of magic: if she had been constructing a building, she had the foundation for a skyscraper but had build on it an outhouse. The construction of the necklace and the magic imbued into the structure would make it to sustain and contain untold amounts of force. She was a prodigy when it came to these.

 

At that point all the spell had was a homing signal—which was the beam of lightning she shot at Jayden first—and the ability to amplify her normal lightning bolts by a factor of one hundred. Not bad, but when it came to taking down baddies like Jayden, or keeping up with powerhouses like Matthew, it wasn't going to cut it. Not only that, she had four charms dangling off it, which would translate into four arrows of iron. This would only give her four extremely powerful arrows, that wouldn't miss their mark, at least not as long as she blasted them with the magical signal first. Again, it someone like Jayden would take all four, then rip her head off and be healed within six hours. Ariel decided to help Elizabeth, she truly loved her as a friend, and she wanted to do everything she could to help her.

 

They spent a long, long, time forcing power into this bow. It still could handle more power. By this time they may have built a house, and they wanted the skyscraper.
 

Ariel then dug up one of the fairy stones that was embedded into the chest of her dead friend, Godrik. It's unimaginable wealth of power was just what her enchantment needed, it would pump untold amounts of power into her, giving her four arrows the boost they so desperately needed. They compressed the stone and shaped it into the gem that was on her necklace. Hiding its true nature by layer after layer of enchantment. After that, Ariel inscribed hundreds of thousands of ancient runes into Izzy's arm that drew the string back, otherwise the force of the arrow leaving that unprotected hand would probably rip it off from the energy expelled. Mixed into them were runes for speed, strength, and durability. When their work was complete, it was stronger than they ever could have imagined. Imbuing it with the force of her ancient family power, along with the power of the fairy stone, creating a magical nuclear warhead. It hummed with power as she held the bow cocked, radiating a purple hue.

 

By this time Jayden was on her, though, and had it not been for Ariel, she probably wouldn't have died.

 

Jayden didn't trust whatever it was Elizabeth was up too, as he lunged forward, Ariel hardly had time to react. Her mouth uttered words at a rate that any rap group would envy, at her beckoning gallons of water came ushering forth, the snow melting from nearly everywhere around them. Jayden zipped past them and headed for Elizabeth, he was within inches when she let lose the first arrow. She angled the bow upwards, otherwise she risked it slicing through one of her friends for the arrow to find its mark, once launched it would take the straightest path possible to its target, going through literally anything.

 

Jayden would have killed her, easily, had she not losed the arrow at that moment. The arrow shot off like a missle out of its launcher, immediately, the moment that her fingers left the string and the runes on her arm illuminated in preperation for the sudden force, the arrow was surrounded and jolted to life with purple energy. Even Jayden's heightened senses couldn't see it move. The arrow ripped Elizabeth's shirt off—revealing her black sports brat, and left a searing red burn across the top of her chest, slightly above her breasts where the arrow lined up before she shot it. The concussive force of the arrow leaving the bow impacted the ground, a powerful concussive shockwave of energy spreading through the air—delaying Jayden's lunge just enough for Ariel's water-bazooka to smash into him.

 

She hit him with hundreds of gallons of water, with enough force to cut through rock. Her mouth continued to utter words faster than her ears could perceive them, and the stream of water followed Jayden, sending him through a building. He emerged out top, flying at ridiculous speeds. Ariel did a quick few calculations in her head, and she had a rough approximation that the arrow wouldn't come back for another minute and half, it left with so much force that it most likely left the stratosphere. Looking up, she saw there was a large hole in the black storm clouds where it left.

 

Elizabeth's left hand hurt. The pain she was in at this moment was worse than anything she could have possibly imagined or accounted for. They severely underestimated the amount of power that the arrow would produce, her shirt was torn off, she had a severe burn across her chest, and she didn't even want to look at her arms—both of them throbbed with pain, her right one from the strange fairy power pumping into it, and her left from the raw power of the arrow. Her head had an unbearable pain that she kenw was there, but it was blocked out by the pure intensity of the crystal flowing through her head. She didn't want to think about how that would feel once she dispelled the power.

 

Ariel had forced Jayden away, and Elizabeth couldn't even afford to take a breath before letting the other three loose. The runes for speed made her move nearly as fast as the arrows as she reached back and grabbed another one, the strange steel humming with power. This one flew in the same trajectory as the other, again she couldn't risk her friends being caught in the crossfire. As this arrow left the bow she lost all feeling in her left and right arms, for a second she thought they'd been amputated, but they were still attached, somehow. The third arrow she couldn't even remember firing, she blocked it out, the pain was too unbearable. The only thing that kept her going was thinking of Matt, and how he sacrificed everything. How could she not do the same.

 

The fourth arrow left her bow and the moment it did, her power immediately ceased. The arrow soaring off, all of them released within two seconds. Her chest wasn't burned, as she had thought, there was just a long gash, two inches wide, completely across the top of her breasts, digging all the way down to the bone. She fell backwards and as she reached her backwards to catch herself, she realized her arms didn't work the way she wanted them too. She wondered why, they didn't appear to have any damage to them, the runes and magic protected the skin somehow, but they still generated a tremendous amount of pain.

 

By the time Ariel's water blasted Jayden through the roof of the building, Elizabeth had shot all her arrows off and fallen backwards the ground. Ariel had to hold her own against Jayden, while he was going all out, for about a minute still. Water was the only thing she had that he couldn't manipulate, everything else was part of the spring ecosystem of power. As soon as those arrows came down, she hoped, Jayden wouldn't be an issue. Those arrows were specifically designed to exhaust the fairy gem of all its power and convert it into Elizabeth's magic in four shots, needing probably months to recharge. Jayden switched targets form Elizabeth to Ariel in a heartbeat, noticing that she wasn't an issue at the moment. He came baring down at her at speeds she could hardly follow, her jetstream of water left behind in the wake of Jayden's fury.

 

Ariel began shifting her speech to call upon the powers of earth to provide a shield of rock, but her speed was no match for Jayden's. His hand became coated in lightning, forming a blade that he intended to pierce through Ariel's chest. It would have, too, had Sookie not blindsided him. She waas in full werewolf state at this time, giving in completely to her werewolf inhibitions. Her speed was immense, it made sense now why she completely turned off her powers earlier. She was saving them up for a short burst of intense power in this transformation—focusing on nothing else but healing her knees so that she wouldn't be hindered to much.

 

She was beautiful werewolf. Pure white with piercing blue eyes, huge and bulging with muscles and tendons. Her powerful right arm dug its sharp claws into Jayden's stomach, his blade lashed out and dug deep into that arm, leaving a gash that severed half her arm off. Just as soon as it was cut, though, it rehealed—the tendons, sinews, and muscles stitching back togetehr and forming scar tissue. Her body twisted and she stopped Jayden's powerful momentum—her body and already weakened internal organs ruptured more, causing her to vomit blood, and the bones in her legs bopped and cracked under the torque of her twisting her hips and baring down on them for suppot. They lasted just long enough, though, for her to send Jayden flying in the opposite direction. Large claw marks deeply embedded into his stomach.

 

Sookie's body immediately reverted back to her weak, human, form. Naked and laying face down. Semiconscious and hardly breathing. She was questioning whether she would live or not, while watching Jayden double back towards Ariel again, she concentrated on healing her stomach and organs. She held back more blood at the back of her throat that, it was futile as she vomited, laying her face back down into the bloody mucus of her empty stomach acid.

 

He was back now, in not even half a second. Ariel was awed, I hate that he's so much stronger than me. She thought, happy though, I'm glad that I'll die saving Elizabeth and getting to see her enchantment in work. And also knowing that I'll be dragging this bastard to hell with me.

 

The water she was controlling was still rushing towards her in an effort to form a defense, but it was behind Jayden, still to slow to keep up with his speeds of nearly moch three. She could hardly follow him he was so filled with rage and power. Just as she accepted her fate, She felt the familiar feeling of being whisked away in a portal.

 

She smiled and was giddy with excitement, for the first time in a long time she actually expressed that emotion, happiness. Elijah was conscious, using his sword as a cane, standing on his knees with his left hand extended. He summoned two portals and moved them over Sookie and Ariel, taking them about seven feet to the left of Jayden, giving Ariel just enough time to slow him down for the arrows to get there. The water was upon him, his hand struck the ground where Ariel was once standing and it went into it, slowing him down just enough to have the water crash into him. The second it did Ariel wrapped it around him and froze it. Creating a block of ice. She continued dropping the temperature at a rate that surprised even her. She was trying to get it to absolute zero, praying that maybe that would completely slow him to the point of where he couldn't move. The ice cracked before she could finish, though.

It didn't matter, though. She could see the arrows behind him in the distance. All four brighter than the sun in the sky. As they entered the atmosphere, the were faster than ballistic missiles, surrounded by purple lightning thicker than passenger jet, a purple streak trailing behind them. The storm clouds ceased and Jayden's eyes turned to them. Jayden whipped up another portal, something that he wasn't even sure he had in him, and Ariel moved through it dragging Sookie. They appeared to the left of Elizabeth.

 

Cern rushing to their side, looking over Sookie. She coughed and gave him a thumbs up, smiling. "Fuck that bastard." She wheezed. 

 

----------Nyx----------

 

Micheal's right arm was on the floor next to Nyx's feet. She was beside herself with joy, glory, and pride. Not many creatures can say that they've so much as scratched Michael Sanderford and lived—she took of his right arm. The only thing though, was that she knew she wouldn't live. It didn't matter to her, honestly. She knew from the start that Ezralda's plan wouldn't succeed, you can't stop Ryuzaki, he's too impossible.

 

When she said impossible, she meant it. Everything about him was impossible. He was probably the first of his kind, this master vampire race. He moved impossibly fast, was impossibly strong, and he was even impossibly smart. She was happy to die knowing that Ezralda would die. Nyx always despised Ezralda, but the choice came to serve under her and sew chaos amongst her ranks, or be hunted down, she chose the latter, she wanted to destroy that evil queen, but she knew she couldn't. Ezralda's power was unparalleled to everything except Ryuzaki's.

 

Ezralda's original intentions were noble, Nyx mused to herself in her head, wanting to unite the fairy realm and prevent the discord and chaos it pushed over to the human world. Mostly she wanted to overthrow the old monarchy—she was expelled early on for her love affair with Nahadoth, causing her to grow bitter. The allies she made in the human world to assist her in this endevour wanted her to exchange that in order for their aid, a worthy trade truthfully. When Nahadoth died, was when she snapped and went crazy, creating order as an evil tyrant instead of a good, fair queen.

 

It wasn't that Ezralda was evil that made Nyx despise, in fact Nyx prefered that. It's that Ezralda expected her to obey her every whim. Ezralda expected Nyx, a being of the Autumn Fae, the Fae that thrive on anarchy and discord. They are the causes of all great tragedies and overthrows—the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and even Fidel Castro and his Cuban revolt. Ezralda forced Nyx to bow to her, and as she kneeled and bowed her head, Ezralda surrounding her with the power of winter and tainting her with it, she planned and waited for the day for her to die.

 

Nyx rushed in recklessly at Michael. Done with her inner monologue. She wanted Michael to kill her. She'd lived for nearly a millennia, she'd had a hand in so many disasters that she felt she served her purpose in this world. She was the last of the Autumn Fae, and she was over it.

 

There still was the slight chance, however, that Ezralda could win and Nyx wasn't willing to chance that. Her element was fire, and fire can't be contained. The nature of fire is such, no matter how much work you put into it, you can't really refine fire, it will always have rigid edges, it will always burn even its masters if they aren't careful. The only way to control fire is to extinguish it.

 

She dropped her scythe of dark, black energy and it evaporated from existence. As she walked towards Michael she was smiling, eyes closed, humming. Waiting for Michael's fire to consume her. It was clear to him that she knew she lost, and that she was done, accepting defeat and awaiting death happily.

 

----------Ezralda/Nahadoth----------

 

Ezralda felt her body slam into the ground. The wind knocked out of her lungs in a powerful arctic blast. Her pure white skin tainted by the touch of Ryuzaki's darkness. The water suddenly became lifeless as she hit the ground, completely accepting defeat, happy to have it. Ryuzaki's hand broke through her sternum directly between her breasts, and grabbed her heart. The very moment his hand wrapped around it, however, he felt an intense burning sensation.

 

A guyser of blue fire erupted from the wound—her final layer of protection that she didn't even know existed. The fire was colder than anything, colder than darkest depths of space. She was expecting Ryuzaki to jump back, to not sacrifice his arm or something that magnitude for him just for this kill. To wait and find another way. When the guyser cleared and she could see she was shocked. The fire blacked and froze Ryuzaki's arm. As Ezralda stared into Ryuzaki's eyes she saw his determination.

 

How could she have ever thought she could win agaisnt someone so fierce?

 

Her mind went to somewhere else, a different dimension in that moment of realization. It was Nahadoth's death curse—only it wasn't a curse as much as it was a message. If he would have put all the remaining magic of his death into his curse he probably could have done something as much as slow Ryuzaki's healing factor and let Ezralda win. Instead he chose to send her, and some of the others, a message.

 

 

They were back where they first made their back. Ezralda looking like a human to blend in in the shitty bar. Long curly hair, a very not-modest shirt revealing most of her breasts and cutting off abover her belly button. Her jeans were tighter and had more holes thn were practical—her eyes, though, were slit like a cats. Nahadoth was wearing something she hadn't seen him in for years. His well fitted leather jacket, black jeans, and heavy boots. He had black sunglasses and his black hair was scraggly and everywhere.

 

“Remember this place?†He said to her and she smiled. “This is the day after you were banished from the fairy realm for declaring your love for me, and that you chose me as your Knight. They banished you and sent you here. It was where this all started.

 

“Of course I remember.†She reached out to touch him and she could. She wanted to cry but something calmed her, it must have been something with Nahadoth's magic. She's wanted this for so long. “So this is your death curse?†She wanted to be angry for him not directing it at Ryuzaki, but she couldn't. She could never actually be angry at him. “Why? Why this?â€

 

“Ezralda,†he said, “you know what you're doing is wrong.â€

 

It was then that she broke down, every part of her feeling destroyed. She did. She knew she shouldn't have done this, but the power of the Winter Queen is terrfically corrupting. Without someone to share the burden with, and without anyone to lean on she couldn't do it. It corrupted her and blackened her soul. “You gave it all for me, Naha,†Saying her pet name for him hurt, it hurt worse than Ryuzaki stabbing and squeezing her heart, “And I just wanted to be alone. Then I couldn't go back. It wasn't my fault. The power of Winter is so evil. So horrible. Winter is such a destructive thing, it comes and it kills.†She put her head in her hands and when she looked up they weren't in the bar anymore. They were floating in nothingness.

 

Naha embraced her, He was taller than her so her face pressed into his shoulder

 

She cried into his shoulder and she felt his tears on the back of her neck. “I just wanted to change it, to change the world and be with you and--â€

 

He cut her off with a kiss. A long, sweet kiss. “We will be together soon.†She grabbed at him and held him hard against her, not letting go. Wanting to live in this moment for ever. “I love you.†He said.

 

She was barely able to say it back before it was over and not even a nanosecond had passed in reality.

 

The moment Ryuzaki's hand gripped Ezralda's heart he felt Nahadoths' death curse press upon him.

 

He brought Ryuzaki into the first place they met, and they looked the same. It was a dark night in an alley on Nirvana. He had his cane—damn Ryuzaki hasn't had that thing in a while—and he was dressed in a fashion that he had almost forgotten about. It was just them, though, unlike before.

Ryuzaki smiled at him, he immediately recognized it was the old Nahadoth. Nahadoth smiled back.

 

“I'm sorry that I did that, sacrificed myself to see the future.†Nahadoth bend his head down and shook it, “I shouldn't have trusted that fucking demon, but I couldn't let Ezralda die.†He waited a momennt, before continuing, “turns out, me doing that was the whole reason why this happened and she died in the first place. It was a warning, what could have been. The demon inside me just twisted it to the way I wanted to see it.â€

 

Ryuzaki was quiet still, he was a man—or Master Vampire—of few words. It didn't matter, really, because the only one he put enough of his soul into for a two way conversation was Ezralda, This was just a message to Ryuzaki, a visual letter.

 

“I'm thanking you, though, for putting her out of her misery. I'm glad it was you that did it.†Ryuzaki said something but no sounds came out. “Before I go, I'm going to show you, though, what Ezralda felt, the price that came with the power she got.†Ryuzaki went silent, nodding his head, “The price you paid for your power was the scars of defeating Erevis. The price Ezralda paid was much more grave, it was constant nagging darkness tearing at her heart, and when she lost me and was alone for that brief few days, it consumed her.â€

 

At the end of his sentence, Ryuzaki was overcome with the strangest of sensations. Grief, sorrow, and anger, pride, lust, envy, yearning, nostalgia, all at once. That was just the beginning, though. Ryuzaki's mind was filled with it, he couldn’t focus on anything else, just those feelings, they completely consumed him. After that was when the voices came. They were slow at first, just giving him a few ideas of what he could do, but then getting demanding. Soon they merged with his mind, he couldn't tell the difference between his own thoughts and the voices, they merged and pulled and the horrid feelings he was already feeling.

 

He remained still though and endured it. Nahadoth didn't expect to break him with this, just to show him what Ezralda felt, put him in her shoes for what felt like five minutes. As it was coming to a clothes, Ryuzaki still filled with the dread, Nahadoth added the feeling that truly broke Ezralda. She was powerful and had enough integrity to power through, but not when you couple in the loneliness. The loneliness of losing the one thing you had. The one thing you sacrificed your humanity for.

 

It ended and Ryuzaki breathed a deep, relaxing breath. Nahadoth looked at him and said, “I apologize for doing that, I just thought you should know what she felt, every day. The world will be safe in your hands Ryuzaki.â€

 

As Nahadoth faded away he said to him, “Oh, and please tell Sookie that I'm going to be waiting for her.†He turned and flash a smiled at Ryuzaki, “Ryuk and I will be. I'll say hi to him for you guys. If you ever die, I look forward to seeing you.â€

 

And with that, he was gone, and Ryuzaki was back holding Ezralda's heart, a completely different outlook on the battle that he had just fought.

 

“I did this all,†She spoke, her voice clearer and softer than ever. Ryuzaki was taken back, for a moment, surprised at clearness and fluidity and innocence and structure of her voice. It sounded just like before, just like when they first met and first plotted. Before everything happened and before she gained this infinite wealth of power that wound up cursing her. “for nothing.â€

 

Tears welled and stayed in her eyes, Ezralda wondered at that moment what Ryuzaki thought. Did he wish he never helped her? Was he grateful to her for helping him kill Erevis, or did he wish that he never met her and never became a master vampire? Did he blame her for Ryuk's death? Did Sookie? She wondered in that moment, in her last moment, as he pulled her heart out with his blackened, frozen, frost bitten arm, Do you really loathe me?

 

She died with those tears still in her eyes, not upset that she died, but upset that she lost Nahadoth, upset that she completely lost her sanity and didn't gain it until the last moment. Upset that in the end she was no queen. She wasn't the queen she promised everyone, she promised herself, she would be. Upset that she betrayed alienated the close group of friends and allies she had made, had she kept them by her side would this have happened? It didn't matter. It never would.

 

Some of those tears though, were of happiness. Happiness that, for one last time, she got to feel the sensation of love as Nahadoth kissed her lips, held her in his arms, and told him he loved her.

 

“Thank you.†She said to Ryuzaki, her voice back to being pure, as pure as it was when they first met in the dingy apartment, Ryuk in the next room, Nahadoth frantically working out a plan, and Ezralda sitting on an old, yellow couch, flirting with Ryuzaki.   

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=== Ryuzaki ===

 

Ryuzaki stood up and away from Ezralda’s body, the last words still etched on her lips. He still held her heart in his hands and when he looked down at it, his vampire instincts told him to swallow it there and then. It was known that Fairy blood, and hearts, did nothing spectacular to normal Vampires or even True Vampires, but no-one could know what effect it could have on a Master Vampire. However, he battered the urge away and simply stared at the heart like it was something he had never seen before.

 

A strange feeling had come over in, helped partly by Nahadoth’s parting gift, and he wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it. Ryuzaki knew that Ezralda had to die, he had no kind of regrets over it, but for the first time since he began his long career of killing people he had no sure idea why. Was it because he hated her for going crazy with power? Or perhaps it was the fact she had killed countless innocents? Maybe he hated her for what she had done? Or was it as simple as the fact she had decided to try and kill him? Ryuzaki just didn’t know, and it unsettled him to find himself capable of thinking like that.

 

But he put the thought out of mind for the time being, he could ponder such thoughts in a monastery, or at the peak of a mountain, but not while his friends were still in danger from Ezralda’s cronies. With a brief hesitation before committing, Ryuzaki squeezed down on the heart in his hand and it burst into a thousand fleshy pieces that splattered onto the ground around him. It was at this point that he rewrote the seal of his true form and his human-look returned.

 

His red eyes faded until his shining fold pupils returned, then the charcoal coloured skin brightened until he was pasty and white again. Except that the strange burn that ran the length of his right arm remained. Even as the rest of the small wounds he had received in his true form healed instantly, it deigned not to attempt the frostbite-like wound of his arm. It was black from the fingertips all the way to joint of his shoulder, with blue cracks running its length.

 

No doubt a gift from Nahadoth to never forget what happened today; as if I would. He thought as he flexed the fingers of the burnt arm and then flicked it out to destroy a segment of the stadium wall. It still seemed to work as normal so if the wound was merely cosmetic, he had no arguments about it.

 

The darkness that had been created by Ryuzaki faded when he broke the wall and the normal light returned. Ryuzaki then focused his senses and locked on to where his allies had gathered. He instantly recognised that most of them were heavily injured, Sookie included, and jumped to their location at top speed.

 

He appeared in front of them and quickly scanned them, not reacting to the state they were in; especially Sookie. Then he noticed the broken body of Matt and even he couldn’t keep the rage from touching his eyes. So when he turned around to face their opponent, he could have burnt a hole straight through him with his hate alone; if he had had that sort of power.

 

=== Jensen ===

 

Coldsnap could not stand against the might of Jensen at 100% compatibility with his Creation magic and so was pierce in all directions by the flaming lances, killing him instantly. As Jensen let the lances fall to the floor, he could create but not remove them, the lettering that covered his face and exposed skin pulsed once and then disappeared. At the same time, the golden armour he had summoned fell away from him to reveal the bland brown outfit he wore normally, his sword at his waist.

 

Creation magic tired him out and beads of sweat were running down his face; although he wasn’t too bad on the physical injury side of things, the wound in his side the worst of it, he felt like he had run a hundred marathons without a break. He was exhausted but he knew that the battle wasn’t over, so he turned around and started to walk towards the direction he had felt Matthew’s power disappear.

 

As he did, a figure stepped out from an alleyway and Jensen came face-to-face with the time mage in a beanie cap. “Arafel, right? Nice to see you’re still alive.†He said with a little smile on his face. “You don’t happen to know where the others have got to, do you?â€

 

Arafel smiled back and pointed over his shoulder. “Yeah, most of them are that way, still fighting with that Spring Fairy dude. I’m afraid to say that Matthew Prideux is dead.†Jensen clenched his teeth but didn’t say anything; it meant he had a bone to pick with someone. “I can take you there, if you want.â€

 

“Thanks.†Was all he said as he walked up to Arafel, trying hard to control his heavy breathing.

 

“Were you using Creation magic?†Arafel suddenly asked with a look of intrigue in his eyes.

 

Jensen thought about denying it but then he couldn’t be bothered to come up with an excuse, especially since he was going to use it to kill Jayden as quickly and painfully as possible, even if it ended up killing him. “I was; it was a secret up till today, but still, I’d ask that you speak of it as little as possible.â€

 

“Good, I’ll be able to use you instead of Matt then.†Arafel said and Jensen turned to him to ask him what the hell he was talking about and saw Arafel push a small ball of a black smoky energy into his chest. Before he could say anything, or do anything, the ball expanded and contracted in a flash, trapping him like the others Arafel had gotten his hands on.

 

“Just one more and then I’m done.†Arafel said, wiping his hands on his jeans and heading off in the direction of the gathered allies.

 

=== Michael ===

 

Nyx started to walk towards him slowly, her eyes closed and humming away, and Michael realised that she had accepted her lose; she was ready to die by his hand. His face stayed stoic, but inside a sad smile petered into life as he watched he approach what she thought was her death. Michael walked forward to meet her and when she was within arm’s reach, he raised his remaining hand and placed it on her shoulder.

 

“Death is not what I bring for you.†He said as the circle of flame behind him rotated forward and consumed the two of them before disappearing in a ring of smoke that faded into the air.

 

Even behind his mirrored goggles, Michael could only see the raging fire of his magic and then it suddenly died and the two of them were left standing on what seemed to be large flat rock floating in a sea of white-hot lava. Similar rocks floated around them in random patterns, but far to their right was a large mountain with a surface red like blood. On their left was a sphere of red, yellow, and white energy, like the surface of the sun, which was just translucent enough to see a tower sat at it’s centre.

 

Nyx opened her eyes, no doubt wondering why she wasn’t dead, and couldn’t help but looked surprised. “Welcome to the Elemental Realm of Fire.†Michael said as he turned to walk towards his tower. As he stepped off the floating rock, another one appeared out of the lava to create a path for him; more rocks continued to surface as he walked. Nyx hesitated and then followed Michael, the rocks sinking as she stepped off them.

 

“My father has granted you permission to exist her, otherwise you would have been reduced to ash the moment I brought you here. It helps that your very nature is fiery, literally, so you are somewhat compatible.†He reached the sphere but didn’t pay it any mind as he walked through it and up the stairs to the door of his tower, Nyx followed in silence.

 

“I’m afraid I can’t justify killing you, even if that is what you want.†Michael said, watching Nyx’s face carefully. “You are the last of your kind, as it stands, and when Ryuzaki kills Ezralda, the seasons will be thrown into chaos. The Winter hierarchy will fall to one of the nobles rescued during our assault on the palace, the Spring will fall back to Jayden in its entirety, unless he’s dead, which could pose a problem I suppose, but oh well. The summer will go to a young Fae by the name of Lisanna, who hides at Mount Everest with her mate, the only two Summer Fae to survive the war. Of course, that means the Autumn will fall to you, so I won’t kill you.â€

 

He brushed his hand along the door and it swung inwards like a strong gust of wind had blown it open. “So I invite you to stay here for a couple of months, just so things can settle down without you causing trouble. Then I will return with you to the world and you can be on your merry way.†Michael stepped into the threshold to his tower and turned to face Nyx. “Or you can wander the lands of the Realm, but I assure you it won’t be very accommodating; my father won’t protect you from the inhabitants that live here.â€

 

Nyx hesitated for a second time and then shrugged, stepping forwards into the tower. Michael smiled, outwardly this time, and escorted her in as the doors shut behind him. 

 

=== Jayden ===

 

The water around him froze in an instant, dropping to ridiculous levels of cold in the blink of an eye, but it didn’t bother Jayden too much. He broke through it with the force it took to sneeze, and he landed in a crouch, quickly calculating how much energy he had left and how long it would last him.  Unfortunately he never got to finish those calculations as he looked up at a burst of energy above his head and saw the four steel arrows flying at him like missiles.

 

Shit. He thought as he raised his left hand in some form of futile defence.

 

A second before the arrows struck him, Jayden quickly flushed the rest of the Spring energy he had absorbed through his body and activated his Fairy form again. He hadn’t been planning on using it, it drained the energy completely in a second, but it was his best chance to survive the attack. Not that it appeared to help.

 

The first arrow, ahead of its brothers by a second or so, struck him directly through the palm of his left hand and pierced deep into his left shoulder. The second caught him in the right side of his abdomen, the third completely through his left thigh, and the final one hit him through his right shin. The purple energy surrounded him and he screamed in pain as it bit into him from all directions. Whatever energy it was, it was nothing he had felt before and he felt no way for him to block or deflect it and so was helpless as it ate away into him.

 

As it did, the energy swirled around like a tornado until Jayden was consumed by an opaque sphere, about 3 metres in diameter. It was much smaller than the fairy energy explosion from earlier, but anyone could see it held more power; a hundred-fold, a thousand-fold. The group of Ryuzaki’s allies watched as the energy swirled for more than a minute and then it faded away, leaving a small crater in the ground. At first they thought that it had disintegrated Jayden completely, but then they saw his battered figure stood at the centre of the crater.

 

Jayden was wrecked completely, where an arrow had struck, that part was missing a hefty part of flesh, leaving him looking like a slice of Leerdammer cheese. Along with that, black burn marks covered almost his entire body, most notably along his left side of his body and face, the only unmarked skin was the right side of his face and his right shoulder. He stood there for a minute and they began to think he had died standing up when he suddenly jerked and let out a wail of pain. Then he sucked in a deep breath and struggled up the side of the crater until he was stood on normal level again. The gathered allies couldn’t believe their eyes, how could Jayden be so strong was the thought that echoed through their minds.

 

Then Jayden’s good eye rolled into the back of his head and he collapsed forward into the snow, immobile. The allies let out a collective sigh of relief, which is when Ryuzaki appeared in front of them.

 

“Don’t relax, he’s not dead yet.†He said with his powerful voice. As he had been when he had left Ezralda’s body, his torso was bare and pasty white again, with the exception of the black frostbite and strange cracks that ran the length of his right arm and stopped at his shoulder. All other indications that he had been in a battle for his life had already been healed by his impossible levels of regeneration he held as a Master Vampire.

 

Sure enough, Jayden’s right hand twitched and then he slid it forward to lever himself into a kneeling position, his head still bowed to the floor. “I. Will. Not. Fall.†He said through clenched teeth, a stream of blood leaving his lips and pooling at the floor. “I will not be the extinction of my race! Not…by you! Not…by Ezralda! Not even by Ryuzaki!†he roared the Master Vampire’s name and reared his head up in defiance only to freeze when his gaze fell on the man in question. “You’re here?†he questioned, blood now leaking from his left ear and eye as well as the corner of his mouth. “You won.†This wasn’t a question.

 

“Obviously.†Ryuzaki replied, his golden eyes shimmering with fury.

 

Jayden stared at him for another second in silence before he started chuckling, then he burst out into a full-on open mouthed laugh. A fit of coughing brought him to a stop, the gathered people likely thinking he had lost his mind, and he struggled to his feet slowly. “She’s dead at last…my oath is fulfilled.†He muttered. “To the end…Redlecar.â€

 

“You sound like you think you’re done here.†Ryuzaki said. “But you’ve hurt my friends so I can’t just let you walk away.â€

 

Jayden grinned, coughing up yet more blood, it was surprising he still had any left, and wobbled on his feet. “I will submit to your justice, but not now, not until I have ensured the survival of Spring.†His words were slurring, but they were still easy to understand for the moment.

 

Ryuzaki stared at him, thinking back to first time he had met the Guardian of the Spring Fae on Nirvana, through the times when they met on Ryuzaki’s journey of the world after attaining Master-hood and the time they brought down the Summer Fae, right up until the point he stood near-dead before him fighting for Ezralda. “You have ten years.†He said. Ariel started up a protest but Ryuzaki turned his angry gaze on her and she fell silent, deciding not to test him at that point in time. “Then I will find you, and kill you.â€

 

Jayden nodded and reached out his right arm where it disappeared into the air and opened up a portal to the realm of the Spring Fae. It would take him four of those ten years to fully recuperate from Elizabeth’s attack, so he needed as much time as he could get.

 

=== Ryuzaki ===

 

Ryuzaki knew that letting Jayden live would hurt his allies, but he knew that Jayden had earned it in previous battles; even if he did fight for Ezralda now. Plus, he thought that Michael would probably scold him if he killed the last remaining Spring Fae before he could gain control of the season. However, he turned away from his allies and looked down to the end of the street, where a figure was walking slowly towards them.

 

“We’ll speak later about what has transpired here, but it looks like we’ve still got one more thing to deal with.â€

 

=== Arafel ===

 

The snow crunched lightly beneath his pointed boots, Arafel guessed it would take a couple of months at the minimum for the world to shift back to its correct weather and seasonal patterns, as he walked slowly to where Ryuzaki stood with his allies. Four small cog-spheres rotated around him like planets in orbit, before Arafel reached up and touched them each in turn, causing them to bounce up and circle above his head.

 

When he was within ten or so steps of Ryuzaki he came to a stop and lid his hands into his pocket. Immediately, Jinkama stepped up next to Ryuzaki and pointed at Arafel. “Did you try and attack me earlier?†he said, his golden hue already shining in the light.

 

Arafel shrugged before answering. “I’m not sure if ‘attack’ is the right word for it.†Jinkama frowned and Arafel tilted his head to the side. As he did, the four cog-spheres dropped and extended out into a line with Arafel, before growing in size to show the four captives within them.

 

When Jinkama saw Jensen, he exploded forward with his Golden Aura activating on the move. Ryuzaki contemplated stopping him and then decided to wait it out, it wasn’t like he couldn’t break Arafel’s neck in a second. Arafel waited until Jinkama was a foot or so away from him and then with a nod of his head, a large door-sized cog appeared and caught Jinkama’s punch head on.

 

As had happened before when Arafel had tried touching his magic against Jinkama’s aura it exploded on contact. But this time he was prepared for it as he stepped back to avoid the blast while at the same time generating a small cog-sphere behind Jinkama which the Aura mage fell into. Immediately, and as Arafel suspected, it engulfed him completely, trapping him like the others. Arafel had guessed it would work, seeing as he could affect Jinkama through his aura when he had attacked him immediately after the explosion the first time. With Jinkama trapped, this left Arafel with five cog-sphere’s holding five specific supernaturals.

 

With a wave of his left hand, removed from his pocket, the five cog-spheres floated around slowly until they had created an oval around the gathered individuals. Without a warning, Ryuzaki moved from his spot and appeared with his hand around Arafel’s neck, lifting him clear of the floor by his outstretched arm. Arafel choked on the grip but still managed to wave his right hand, causing the five spheres to fire pillars of black smoke into the air where they bent and joined in the middle, directly above the centre of the oval. More smoke then spread out from the pillars until the group was covered by a dome of the energy.

 

“What are you trying to do?†Ryuzaki asked, keeping his grip frim around Arafel’s throat, but loose enough to allow him to talk.

 

“Nothing too nefarious.†Arafel replied, somewhat hoarsely. “But you might as well let me go now, you might want to kill me but you don’t know if that will free your friends. Who are still very much alive, I might add.†Ryuzaki thought about it and then moved to let Arafel go, except he couldn’t. “What’s the matter? Can’t do it?†Arafel said politely. Ryuzaki tried to move again but nothing happened.

 

It wasn’t like something was stopping him physically, not even his muscles bulged or anything to indicate he was trying to move. Arafel pulled his fingers apart, like Ryuzaki’s grip wasn’t like steel, and dropped to the floor, brushing imaginary dust from his trousers. He looked across to the others and saw that they too were confused that they could not move. Arafel stepped across to Ryuzaki and lifted him up like he weighed as much as a piece of paper, turning him around to face his friends.

 

“What’s the most impressive thing about Time magic, would you think?†Arafel asked, stepping forward until he was stood equidistant from Ryuzaki and his friends. “Is it slowing time? Nope. Is it reversing time? Also no. Oh, is it stopping time? Nope, not that either. So what can it be?†he opened his arms wide and a pillar of smoky energy shot down and hit him on the top of the head, swirling around him to create a sphere of his own.

 

“None of those; the answer, of course, is time travel!†another pillar of smoke shot of from his sphere and struck the overhead dome in the side of the wall. It swirled widely for a second before forming into a large double door. “I’ll never have the energy to do this under my own power, so I had to borrow your friends’. But don’t worry, it’ll go back to them afterwards.â€

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If it had been anyone else, Ariel would have “gone berserk†as she called it; her other self taking over and most likely ignoring whatever judgement was decided and killing Jayden. However, since it was Ryuzaki, she weas ability to hold her mind together and fight the urge to protest—as hard as it was—and allowed herself to be calmed by his icy gaze. She would definitely raise hell for it later though. She didn't care about the sake of the world's ecosystem or seasons or power balance, she just wanted Jayden to get what he deserved. He made the decision to work with Ezralda, he more than knew what the consequences would be if he lost.

 

She could see that Sookie was reeling to ring Jayden's neck as he walked away, a metaphorical hammer of Domiciles attached to a ticking egg-timer hanging over his head. Sookie sat up and readjusted herself, legs stretched forward and hands behind her. The last thing she wanted was for her knees to lock up. She would need some serious time to heal, but in a week or so she should be back to normal. Ariel studied her carefully, trying to ascertain whether or not she should tell her sit back and get some rest. She opted not too. Even if she did, Sookie wasn't one to listen to advice—Sookie did what Sookie wanted to do and that was that.

 

Instead she gave her attention to Elizabeth, at this point Cern had dragged her to Elijah. Elijah was overreacting to the situation, or by Ariel's diagnosis he was, he was running his hands over her arms and wincing at the deep bleeding gash in Elizabeth's chest. The tattered remains of Elizabeth's shirt were torn into a bandage that was already soaked through with her blood, More than likely she was going to need a blood transfusion. Out of everyone there, Ariel was shocked that Cern and Jinkama were the least injured. They were always the ones to jump headfirst into anything.

 

“Elizabeth,†Ariel said to her, she maintained her usual stony face, however it was clear that she had deep concern for her friend, “I'm extremely pleased with the results of that enchantment.†She smiled, “It will take a lot of tweaking though, and we severely underestimated the power.â€

 

Elijah was about to voice a protest and say something along the lines of Ariel should be more worried about Elizabeth's safety and not her enchantment, but Elizabeth shut him up and said, “Much agreed.†She winced as she tried to move her arms, the amount of energy that was forced into them probably had some strange side effects, Ariel pondered, but it would most likely fade. That was at least something they had accounted for. Elizabeth said, “Let's give it a while, though, because I'm going to need a lot of rest before I can even think of doing any complicated spells for some time.

 

There conversation was brought to a sharp close as Arafel appeared and demonstrated his performance—displaying their friends as if they were taxidermied animals on display at a hunting outlet. No words were needed between them to know what would happen next. It would be Cern and Jinkama who fought, all the others were to injuried, and Ryuzaki would provide backup if needed. Cern moved forward as Jinkama did, staying out of everyone's line of site to hopefully hit Arafel in the blind spot—something he wouldn't expect and as Jinkama fought head on Cern would throw knives and shoot arrows they'd practiced this technique in actual combat many times. As Arafel froze Jinkama, Cern didn't hesitate and in a span of three seconds ten arrows were launched at Arafel.

 

All of them, however, froze along with space and time, by Arafel's hand.

 

The great team of fighters assembled all froze in place, unable to move, frozen in place. Everyone of them infuriated. It didn't seem like Arafel wanted to hurt them, there wasn't a malicious thing about his demenour, however they all knew—or at least thought they knew—he wanted something from them. As if he had some new adventure, or there was some future crisis that needed them.  

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For an uncomfortably long time, nothing happened, and Arafel started thinking of releasing his magic and falling to his knees to grovel at Ryuzaki’s feet. However, just as that thought crossed his mind the large double doors that had been created from his magic swung open to reveal a deep black smog. Another couple of seconds of silence ticked by before a figure became visible as he stepped into the shaded light of Arafel’s time dome.

 

He was an older gentleman, streaks of grey running through his brown hair, of average height. He was wearing a set of dark red robes, the sleeves long with wide cuffs, with a black cog embossed in the centre of its chest. Strangely, he also wore a matching beanie cap like Arafel’s. He looked around at the individuals frozen in time magic and then at Arafel. As his gaze fell on the Time mage, a look of wonder appeared as he walked towards him slowly.

 

“Arafel, master, you look so young.†His voice was croaky but confident at the same time.

 

Arafel shook his head. “I’m not your master. But I presume I told you what the plan was?â€

 

The man shook his head, as if waking himself from a dream. “Yes, of course. But I’m afraid things haven’t gone exactly as you planned; you know of our situation?â€

 

“Yes, I have been told, which is why I’m helping you in the first place. But what is the problem?â€

“They found us. About 5 minutes before the gate opened, they launched a full scale attack.†Suddenly a whistling filled the air and the man jerked forward as an arrow constructed completely of steel pierced through his heart from behind. The man staggered forwards and then fell to the ground at Arafel’s feet as another figure appeared in the fog.

 

Rather, it turned out to be more than one figure as it was a man riding a wolf the size of a horse. The wolf was a beast of an animal, all muscles and tendons with ragged grey hair and a long bushy tail. The man sat astride it was a beast in his own right; near seven feet tall of hard muscle, with heavy armoured boots and leggings on. His chest was bare, with the exception of a thick leather strap that ran from his right shoulder to his left waist, holding an armoured pauldron at his shoulder. A quiver of large steel arrows was fastened at his waist and in his hand he held a longbow constructed from what appeared to be steel.

 

The figure slid off the wolf and landed on the floor with a heavy rattle of armour before looking around at the gathered people and running a hand over his bald head. “Well, what do we have here then; some kind of Time bubble to hide reserve forces? I did not think the Time Legion could spare reserve forces at the rate we are beating them.â€

 

The monstrous wolf suddenly shivered and shrunk until a young, skinny man stood in its place. From his frozen spot, Ryuzaki couldn’t help but think he looked somewhat familiar. It was a second later he realised he looked exactly like Sookie, except male. “I smell vampires.†He growled, deep from within his throat. “Strange, seeing as I’m sure I killed the last ones off years ago.†He turned his head slowly, led by his nose, until he settled on Misa in her bubble. “This one is a vampire, untainted. But there’s more.†He turned again until he was facing Ryuzaki. “This one is too, but not normal, something different.â€

 

“Why do they not move? Are they scared stiff we’ve found them?†the armoured one said, stepping over to where Ariel and the rest were resting. “Perhaps they are not reserve forces, perhaps they are the cowards who didn’t want to fight. Whatever the case, Rook, kill them all.â€

 

Rook, the werewolf, grinned with a soft purr at the back of his throat. “I’ll start with the girls, their flesh is always softer.â€

 

“No!†Arafel shouted, stuck in his bubble to keep the gate open.

 

Suddenly, Ryuzaki felt whatever had gripped him come loose and he appeared behind Rook in a millisecond, his hand grasping the back of his neck. Rook roared out and kicked back but Ryuzaki didn’t react apart from to step forward and ram Rook’s face into the ground, leaving a small crater for his head to rest in. Immediately, and impressively, the armoured figure and an arrow nocked and aimed at Ryuzaki.

 

“Release him, now. I won’t ask a second time.†He said, his voice carrying omens of death.

 

“Arafel, release the others.†Ryuzaki said calmly, keeping hold of the squirming Rook.

 

“I can’t, I’m sorry. I need them to maintain the gate; if it closes with these three on this side, things could become twisted in time.†Arafel said, rubbing his hands through his hair, his beanie cap now on the ground at his feet.

 

“Fine, I’ll get them back in the…†he was interrupted by an arrow about to hit him between the eyes, except he caught it mid-flight with his free hand. “…doorway, and then you can free my friends. Then we’ll have a chat about what you planned to do.â€

 

The armoured foe appeared in front of him with a raised fist falling down like a meteor but Ryuzaki interrupted the attack by swinging Rook up and sending the two of them sliding back with the force. He appeared at Rook’s back and stamped down hard, a sickening crack echoing around the area as Rook screamed out in pain. The armoured man had another arrow nocked but as he loosed, Ryuzaki stepped in and grabbed the arrow before it had even left the bowstring. He pushed back, snapping the bowstring, and dug the arrow into the man’s chest.

 

Then he turned back to Rook, who was crawling slowly away on the floor, and delivered a swift kick to his side that sent him tumbling sideways and back through the smog behind the door. Ryuzaki turned back to the armoured one and received a large fist to his face; although he had been expecting it so it broke his nose but travelled no further. Of course, his healing took care of the injury as Ryuzaki punched the guy in the gut, in the small gap between the muscles of his abdomen. Immediately all the breath was knocked out of him and he fell to his knees, struggling to draw in breath.

 

Ryuzaki wrapped his long fingers around the man’s head and tipped it back so he was looking him in the eye. “I figure I won’t meet you for a while, since you don’t seem to know me but burn my face into your memory because, one day, I’ll come for you.†He lifted the guy by his head and launched him backwards where he passed back through the smog behind the door. Finally he walked over to the first man, who had been shot by the arrow, and picked him up off the floor, the limpness of the body explaining all he needed to know.

 

Deciding that passing through the smog would be a bad idea; he laid the man on the ground and pulled the arrow free. Then he hooked his toe under him and rolled him into the smog. “Now close it, Arafel, and we can have our talk.â€

 

“I guess I have a lot of explaining to do.†Arafel said as he raised his hands to close the gate. Nothing happened however, and Arafel frowned. “I can’t close it. Something is stopping me from the other side.â€

 

“What, a friend of those guys?†Ryuzaki said

 

“No, the energy stopping me feels familiar, almost like…ah, I get it.†He said just as yet another figure stepped out of the doorway.

 

He was fairly tall, a couple of inches taller than Arafel, and was skinny with a sense of hidden muscle about him. He was wearing a three-piece suit, dark red in colour, with a white shirt open at the neck. Over that he had an ankle-length coat, black in colour with brown fur lining the inside and had a dark red beanie-cap on his head. His eyes were a light grey while his blonde hair was long and scraggy, running down to the centre of his back. On the back of his coat was a red cog, circling an angular cross, and in his hand he held a tall staff topped with the same symbol, carved of wood.

 

Ryuzaki saw the resemblance immediately and began to understand. “This is your doing, isn’t it? When Arafel said ‘time travel’ he literally meant it; you’re his future.â€

 

“Right in one, Ryuzaki, about 20 years or so actually. I know, I look devilishly young.†He smiled and then just as quickly it disappeared. “But I shouldn’t really joke, I’m afraid the plan has to be scrapped, Arafel.â€

 

“Why.†Arafel said, still within his bubble in order to maintain the gateway.

 

“With Joseph dead, I am the last surviving member of the Time Legion; fitting, I suppose, that I am its Archon. They attacked moments before we managed to establish the connection between us; and ravaged us.â€

 

“What are you going to do?†Arafel said, while Ryuzaki listened and watched.

 

The future Arafel sighed and scratched his head through his beanie. “I’m afraid I must return. I won’t surrender, so I will most certainly die.â€

 

“Wait a minute.†Ryuzaki said. “If you’re fighting some kind of enemy, where am I, and the rest of my friends? Or are we your enemy?â€

 

Arafel shook his head. “That mystery is the reason I had to contact this time’s Arafel in order to activate the Time Bridge. I, or any other Time mage, will never be able to generate enough energy to solely create a bridge, so a person would need to hijack the energies of powerful beings. As Arafel is doing, under my orders, I might add. Unfortunately, in my time, I am probably the strongest and I am far below the power levels of the stronger individuals here. As for where you and your allies are, no-one knows.â€

 

“It was 8 years ago, only months before the Brenai started their attack, when you sent Sookie to come and see my at my Legion’s HQ. She told me that you had been summoned by the few of your kind, and that you would be unavailable for an uncertain amount of time. Sookie joined you, so she said, so I can only presume that whatever happened to you was caused by the ones you met. Then your allies disappeared and I got really curious, but I couldn’t find a trace of them or you. My best guess was that you called on them again to aid you in some manner.â€

 

Ryuzaki pondered for a moment and then leant in to the future Arafel. “Can you completely freeze the others, your younger self included, so that they are not aware of anything.†Arafel, from the future, nodded and smoky chains erupted from his back and latched onto each of the people there; catching them in their own personal time loop.

 

“They are no longer aware of what we speak of. To them, we are simply standing there and looking at each other.†Arafel, of the future, said. “You may speak freely.â€

 

“What I speak of now are secrets of the Master Vampires, I only tell you because your death is all but certain and presuming your new plan is what I think, you won’t even know I told you.†Ryuzaki said. “There are only two other Master Vampires in all the world, Jindor and Kai Ling. They have no power to summon me, no Master Vampire has power over another, but if they called for my help then I would no doubt attend. Of course, if the problem is something that a single Master Vampire cannot deal with, then it would be dire indeed; such as the Queen of the Winter Fae attempting to rule the world in her madness.â€

 

“That being said, to take us out of the game for 8 years is an impressive feat, with only one explanation I can think of. One of the Master Vampires betrayed us. However, one of us could not stand against two, so more so there is only one explanation; both of the other Master’s betrayed me. I find it hard to believe, even in an act of betrayal, that they would kill me but they would know how to incapacitate me. Then I would presume that they took out my friends to prevent them trying to free me; two Master’s would be enough for that,  and those two have been around for a couple of millennia each.â€

 

“Not that you can confirm, or deny any of this since you didn’t know why I’d gone at all.†Ryuzaki finished with, crossing his arms. “But enough talking of what may come to be, I want you gone so I can free my friends and we can be done with this.â€

 

“Agreed.†Arafel said and pulled his chains back into his body. Immediately, everyone’s eyes refocused on the present. “Arafel, the old plan may be scrapped but I do have a new one you need to focus on. As soon as I pass back into my time, my timeline will cease to exist so you will need to create your own one. In 12 years time, should Ryuzaki be called upon, you will need to lend him your power.â€

 

“You seem to be working of the assumption I’m going to let him live. He betrayed my trust and attacked my friends. I’ve already let one man go because he did the same thing, but he was needed alive. As far as I can tell, once he has closed the gate, I don’t need him anymore.â€

 

“Well, I would like to keep my life. Also, I didn’t hurt your friends, as soon as the gate is closed their power will return to them in the state it was when they were frozen.†The present Arafel said from within his bubble.

 

“I see.†Future Arafel said. “I must insist you don’t kill him, but the decision is entirely up to you. Seeing as I’ll be dead and non-existent. Sorry, Arafel, there’s not much more I can do for you. Just know, Ryuzaki, that he wasn’t trying to hurt your or your friends.†With that said, Arafel, from the future, turned around and headed back towards the door. “I bid you farewell, now and I suggest you close the door as soon as I am through; you wouldn’t want anything unsightly coming through like the pair earlier.†He stepped forward and the fog swirled around him as he took one final look back at his past self and Ryuzaki. “Behave yourselves now.†He said as the doors closed behind him.

 

Almost immediately, the tether from the door bounced back to Arafel’s bubble and it popped like its soapy counterpart. The link from the top of the bubble to the dome sped upwards and then the dome itself unravelled and fed back into the bubbles that housed the fighters Arafel had gotten his hands on. A second later, these popped and the people were dumped unceremoniously on the floor in the same state they had been when Arafel had capture them.

 

It was at this point that Ryuzaki noticed the 10 arrows flying at Arafel’s person and although he might want to kill him later, a surprise killing wouldn’t do at all. So he stepped forward and pulled Arafel to the ground to allow the arrows to pass harmlessly over his head. Then he pulled him back to his feet and turned his faze on the people who had been trapped.

 

Misa was glaring daggers at Arafel, joined by Jinkama, but the fact the Time mage was clutched tightly in Ryuzaki’s hand satiated them for the time being. Zane had immediately scrambled over  to the prone Ellie and let out a sigh of relief when he found her to be breathing normally, as if she was just sleeping. He looked across at Arafel, confusion on his face, and then settled on Ryuzaki, a brief look of surprise flitting across his face when he noticed the Master Vampire’s arm.

 

“What’s going on?†he said, looking around at everyone gathered, stopping on the injured. “Clearly I’ve missed something since he decided to turn on us.â€

 

“We won, of course.†Ryuzaki said, still holding Arafel aloft in front of him by his throat. “Ezralda is dead, and all of her lackeys have been dealt with one way or another. But we still have something to do before we can call this a day and go home. We need to decided what to do with this scumbag.â€

 

“Isn’t it obvious.†Misa said, now back on her feet, brushing snow from her body.

 

“Perhaps. Let me explain what happened first, and then you can all decided without me.â€

 

So he did. Ryuzaki didn’t let go of Arafel, who didn’t struggle but kept hold of Ryuzaki’s arm in order to prevent holding himself by his windpipe, and explained about what had happened with the future Arafel and the like. The heroes of the Winter War, all gathered in a single place; less some then they had begun the fight with but very much victorious.

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Sookie's blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail that stretched halfway down her back. She was sitting cross-legged on the floor, her arms streched out bethind her comfortably and leaning backwards. She was wearing a pair of gray sweatpants—tight at the calfs but loose at the thighs—and a bright blue t-shirt. Elizabeth sat on a couch infront her wearing a similar pair of sweatpants only in black. She wasn't wearing a shirt, instead from her belly-button and up were wrapped in sterile white bandages. Elijah's arm was around her, he was wearing a pair of jeans and a green t-shirt.

 

Sookie had bounced back completely from the battle, it had been about thirteen days, all her wounds were simply scar tissue now and even that would fade in another week or so. Elizabeth and Elijah weren't so lucky. Between the two of them, Elizabeth was the worse off afterwards. Elijah was sore afterwords and he had a few broke ribs, fractured bones, and deep cuts, but Elizabeth's chest was in tatters. The chest was the easiest part to heal, according to Ariel who had spent days and nights awake whispering strange words and mending her broken body together. Her arms had sustained strange damage, the cells weren't destroyed they were just warped, malignant. Her enchantment worked, in the sense of firing properly, but the side effects and aftermath would leave damage that would take months to heal properly.

 

“Sookie, you really don't have to stay here and help us.†Elizabeth said, her voice ached with the pain she was in and the pounding migraine she had, “Just because the strongest member of my family died, doesn't mean we are defenseless. There are more people in my family besides Matthew and myself who are capable of battle.â€

 

Elijah nodded, “Besides Ariel is here as well, she may be missing a hand but that will hardly stop her if someone threatens us.â€

 

Sookie shook her head obnoxiously, “You guys are fuckin' annoying.†Elijah and Elizabath both laughed at her, “For one I need a new necklace or something like Ezralda gave me before, so that when I transform back and forth I won't be naked—not that I give a shit, but you know how people are. And two, I have no idea where the hell Ryuzaki went after our battle. The fucker is probably off doing really-stupid-master-vampire-gay-shit.â€

 

“So, thats the plan then, Sookie,†Elizabeth's words were mixed with a slight giggle, "you're just going to hang out here with us until Ryuzaki gets back?â€

 

“No, I have a feeling he won't be back for a while.†Sookie said without worry, “and besides I kind of want to go off on my own for a while. Ya' know, once the weather gets regulated again I plan on transforming into my wolf form and traversing every continent on foot.†Her smile straightened into a solid, stern, line, “And it's time I find more of my race, I've met plenty of werewolves, but none of the same species I guess you could say.â€

 

Both of them nodded to her before changing the subject. “Have you heard anything from anyone else?†They were still shaken up from the strange turn of events that happened, Arafel had gone under Micheal’s “careâ€. It wasn't his betrayal, if you could call it that, that bothered them, it was what the future held for everyone. In about twenty years, something dire was going to happen to the world and strangely none of them would be there to stop it—or so it seemed.

 

“Well Jinkama ran off with that weird girl, Willow I think her name was? She didn't say but three things the whole time, and when Arafel surprised everyone she bolted, coming back when the ghost was clear. Zane and Ellie went back with Michael, Jensen probably went to some weird mountain or something to mediate—fucking hippy—and Cern went back to what remained of Chicago, I think his family went into hiding their. They're South African immigrants or something.â€

 

“It's hard to believe it's over,†Elizabeth said, frowning, “I really didn't want to say goodbye to Ezralda and Nahadoth, as bad as that sounds.†She sniffed, “They were such good friends.â€

 

Sookie wanted to say that she didn't want to say goodbye to Matthew, either, but she knew now wasn't the time to bring up his name. There were rare moments in the day when Elizabeth wasn't crying because of the death of her older cousin. Now was one of the moments. Sookie said, “As much as I hate what they became, I'm glad that we buried there remains here. I understand the concern was that this was one of the safest places to prevent necromancy, what with the century of wards and spells built up on your land, but I feel its right.â€

 

Ariel interruped their conversation, walking into the large dimly lit library, she was wearing her red cloak, a large hood that could, easily swallow her hole head. The back of it bundled on the floor and somehow she walked without tripping on it.

 

Magic, Sookie mused in her head Even with it there is still some shit you just can't explain.

 

“Elizabeth,†Ariel said her voice as monotone as ever, “I have some good news,â€--several books trailed behind her into the room, then orbited around her in a circle--â€I've gotten back from Somalia and found some books I buried there a couple hundred years ago. This will help us when we remake your enchantment.†Elizabeth smiled at her and Sookie was about to say something ridiculous, vulgor, out of place, or annoying, so Ariel decided to cut her off, “Once you are better of course.â€

 

Elizabeth stood up and everyone else followed suit, leaving the library with a murmur of conversation bustling.

 

Sookie didn't go to bed like the rest of them did. Instead she walked through the stoney castle, all the children sleeping, a powerful magical haze filling the air. She walked through a large set of double doors, old and wooden, creaky and loud. The night air was chilly, probably around forty degrees. The snow had melted now, the weather was completely unpredictable. Some days it would be over a hundred degrees, others it would be below freezing. Tonight, fortunately, it was a crisp, fresh, cold. Sookie's favorite weather.

 

She stripped out of her clothes and left them in a jumble on the doorstep, she would put them back on when she was done, but as of right now there was somewhere she needed to go. She had spent as much time as possible in Elizabeth's presence, Sookie considered her her pack-mate, and as such Sookie's very instinct wouldn't let her leave Elizabeth's side while she was hurt. Sookie could tell the lack of privacy bothered Elijah, but she shrugged that off, and when Elijah causally hinted at privacy she responded with a quirky rude remark and simply didn't leave. It was annoying, but then again so was she.

 

She took to her wolf state in a blur and ran across the countless acres of french country side and rich vineyard that the Prideux estate consisted of. When she got to where she was going, a massive oak tree, probably as old as the castle the Prideux live in. The closer she got to it, the more she could make out the details surrounding it. It was crested in the middle of a field, surrounded by gravestones.

 

When Sookie got closer she transformed back into a human. She had only been to this spot once, and that was when he was buried. His body strangely mummified in a metallic, black, substance that was almost completely indestructible. Sookie was glad that he was buried here in France, they had been to the country on multiple occasions and it was always his absolute favorite. He always talked about how beautiful the Prideux mansion was. Ryuk loved the wine in the Prideux mansion, too. Sookie found his grave marker, even though it had been years since she had last been there she still could find it blindfolded.

 

She sat cross legged, struggling not to cry, she still missed him. Ryuk had raised since she was a baby. Her specific breed of werewolf was worth a lot of money on Nirvana's black market, and a young girl like her would have fetched a large sum. By essentially adopting her, he kept all he psychopaths and traffickers at bay. Ryuk had an eery reputation that not many wanted to cross. Her last thoughts of her were him being surrounded and trapped in the vortex of power that Jace summoned, the curse overcoming him completely and dragging Erevis to the depths of hell with him.

 

She brushed her hands on her cheeks and noticed she had been crying. Nostalgia and memories are beautiful and powerful things. “Who was it?†She said out loud, to no one, except maybe Ryuk, “I think it was Kevin Hearne, in that stupid book about a druid in modern day Arizona that you made me read, he said 'memories are like wounds we reopen with thoughts.' Yah, that's exactly right.â€

 

She could see the sun rising on the horizon now, she had left hours ago, and somehow lost track of time. Reminiscing does that to you. She stood up and turned away, “It'll be a while to I come back again,†She said, no longer crying, “say hi to Ezralda and Naha for me. See ya' later, buddy.â€

 

And with that she transformed back into a wolf, sprinting back towards the Prideux estate. It would take Elizabeth about a week once she gets better to build Sookie a new amulet like Ezralda had given her before, and once she had that she would leave and travel the world by herself. She had never spent an extended period of time like that lone before, and she figured that she needed too.  

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