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I have no choice. Even if I ran and got Chen, running will only get me so far. And, I don't think I could live with myself if I abandoned this town. "Alright, Sylph, we'll do it your way." I ready my weapon and heave a heavy sigh. My master taught me well, but my only hope right now is to hold him off and pray that Sylph's plan works. I whisper to Asbel, "We can't fight him down here, it's too unstable. We'll have to take the fight outside." He frowns, but nods. One wrong move down here and the whole place caves in on us.
Asbel whispers to Sophie before drawing his blade, but I ignore it. A battle like this demands all of my focus, so I clear my mind of any unwanted thoughts. Sophie rushes past Aviur in a blur, leaving her cloak behind. It's obvious her target is the door behind him, and he makes no move to stop her. The flames of his sword flicker and fade as he sheathes it.
"I do not know what you are planning, but I assure you, it will not work." He lowers himself into a position where he could either draw his blade in an instant, or charge us. "None will interfere with my mission."
Asbel and I both run to flank him, but make no moves to actually attack. I don't know if Asbel wants me to make the first move, or if he's like me and is trying to force him into the passage way. Either way, it works. Aviur takes a couple steps back, turns around, and runs up towards the shop. Asbel edges in ahead of me and we follow him up.
I'm not sure how, but I know that he isn't going as fast as he can. He's leading us, but why? "Be careful Maxwell," Sylph warns me, "This guy seems stronger than he's letting on."
"Well, no duh! Anyone that needed to be sealed and not killed is going to be a problem. Honestly? Our only hope is for you to contact another Summon Spirit." All I have to do is survive. Winning isn't even on my mind right now. It's like my master told me, as long as I survive, then I can consider it my win.
Up and up and up. We keep going up until we get into the shop, and right out into the streets where we see Sophie waving people out of the town. Good, they're evacuating, now we won't have to worry as much.
At least that's what I would say, if it weren't for Aviur trying to rush towards them only to be stopped by Asbel, "STOP! If you want to get to them, you'll have to go through us!"
"My fight is not with you." He replies calmly. "But if you insist on getting in my way, then I will have no choice but to teach you a lesson." He drops into the same posture as he did underground, but something is different this time. His eyes are narrowed and I can feel the tension in the air.
[i/]"Already on it![/i] I don't feel anything, but I'm not really all that magically sensitive so it doesn't surprise me.
Anyway, focussing on the more important task at hand, Aviur seems to be waiting for us to make the first move.
Which I do.
Thanks to my increased speed, courtesy of Sylph, I close the distance in the blink of an eye. I aim for his arm, but he blocks with his sword while it's still in its sheath. I quickly spin my weapon around to try and hit him with the second blade but he blocks that too. I keep pressing the attack though! I change from slash to thrust and I try to kick out his feet in the process, but none of that works, but if I can keep him on the defensive, then Asbel or Sophie can sneak in and hit him, hopefully.
"Demon Fang!" I hear Asbel call out one of his Artes so I jump to the side. A blue shockwave races along the ground, aimed right at Aviurs feet.
Aviur draws his sword and thrusts it into the ground, causing flames to erupt in its path, stopping it cold. Without pulling the sword from the ground Aviur sprints towards Asbel, leaving an increasingly large chasm of fire behind him. As soon as he reaches the white-clad swordsman he swings the blade upwards, which is narrowly avoided by Asbel.
His back is turned on me. Now is my chance! I dash forward and swing the blade at his neck. My blade stops short and I get hit by, something. I'm sent flying through the air and a nearby window. I come crashing to a stop when I hit a bookshelf, causing its contents to rain down on me.
Whatever hit me was strong and had to have been big. My whole right side hurts from it. Ignoring the pain, I push the books off of me and stand. Through the window, I can see what hit me and my heart drops. It's one thing to fight a talented swordsman, it is a completely different matter to fight a swordsman and a giant fire monster!
The creature has no lower body. It is only fire from the chest down. It's arms are massive, one being a large blade and the other seems to be a regular arm. The creature is armored, similar in looks to the armor Aviur is wearing, but more monstrous in design. The armor looks demonic on that thing, but almost regal on Aviur. The arms are jagged and segmented, the soulders are spiked and foreboding, and its chestplate is full and sturdy looking. The face is obscured by a metal mask which obscures much of its face, but doesn't hide its mouth or eyes. The mouth is flaming and they eyes are burning like the fires of hell. It has hair that flows in the wind, but leaves embers in its wake.
"Maxwell! That thing is tethered to Aviur! It can't go too far from him without disappearing!" I won't question how Sylph knows that, she probably has seen something like it before.
Fighting this thing in melee combat is suicide. Still, it doesn't seem to be attacking Asbel, who is right in front of Aviur. Perhaps it won't attack anyone that is fighting Aviur head on? I'd rather not test that theory myself.
I shake my head and refocus myself. I leap out the window I entered through and rejoin the fray. Rather than attack from the side or the back, I charge in from the front. I'm just in time too, I manage to block an attack that was going for Asbel's neck.
Aviur flicks his blade towards me, pushing me off balance, and Asbel slashes at his arm. The slash gets deflected, but I follow it up with a thrust. Asbel and I repeat the process of attacking when the other gets blocked or avoided to no avail. The heat from Aviurs katana is causing me to sweat more than I normally would. Almost to the point that it makes it hard to grip my weapon. Hell, the heat is starting to make it hard to breath.
"Asbel!" I hear Sophie shout over the sound of clashing metal. "The townspeople are all gone!"
Aviurs calm demeanor vanishes when he hears this. Trying to use this to our advantage, Asbel and I swing at the same time, only to be blocked. "No more games!" He shouts. "Face the fires of Hell!" He forces us back and thrusts his sword into the ground once more. This time cracks appear along the ground and heat rises up from them. "Phoenix Crush!" The ground explodes under our feet sending us flying into the air, only to be brought back down by the monsters giant fist. We have no time to recover before Aviur swings his sword, creating a wave of fire that washes over us and sends us crashing into the side of a building.
"MAXWELL!" Sylph screams in my head, but I don't have the strength to answer her. It doesn't hurt, but I just don't have the strength to do anything.
I lie there on the ground as Sophie rushes towards Aviur, only to be sent flying by the monsters fist. I hear nothing but the ringing in my ears and Sylph calling out to me in desperation.
I have no energy, no motivation, no sense of time, and no hope. This is how I will die. Not a bad way to go, I did just save a whole town from death. For now at least. Still, it's a shame I wasn't able to help Chen.
Oh well, maybe someone else will be able to help her.
Sorry kid, even if I wanted to, I can't get up.
Wait a second! I can barely do it, but I turn my head away from Aviur who is razing the town and see Chen crying over me. I can see the fear in her eyes, the loneliness, and the uncertainty.
Dammit, dammit, dammit! I won't let someone else cry for me! Not again!
I don't know how, but I muster up the energy to stand. I don't look at Asbel, I don't want to see what happened to him. I don't look at Chen. I look straight at Aviur. I feel a power welling up inside of me, something familiar, yet at the same time unfamiliar.
"Max! Sylph shouts once again, this time with hope.
A young woman with light blue skin, blue hair, wearing black fabric that is open on the sides but covers her front and back as a skirt and a white top. The heat from the burning buildings seem so far away with her here. It almost feels chilly right now.
"Sylph, you said you needed help?"
Sylph doesn't appear, but her voice can still be heard. "I did. I contracted with the man before you and we were fighting that man on fire. Please, help us!"
The woman before me smiles, "I would do anything for you my sister." She holds out her hand to me. "I am Celsius. If it is your wish, I will lend you my power."
I waste no time taking her hand. Her hand is cold, almost freezing. "My name is Maxwell. Now I ask you, please lend me the power to help others!" Like Sylph, she glows brightly, except this time it is light blue. She vanishes and I can feel her presence within myself.
"Maxwell," Celsius says cooly, "Now is the time to strike, while he is in a fit of rage.
Both Sylph and Celsius flood my mind with the knowledge of how to us various Artes and spells.
Chen grabs my hand and shakes her head. I know she doesn’t want me to fight him, but I have to. I give her a reassuring smile and pat on the head before rushing off.
I have no idea where my energy is coming from right now, but I won't complain. No, right now I need to focus on Aviur and his monster. So I charge in right at Aviur, my weapon ready to swing at his throat. He blocks, but due to the angle of my swing, I'm able to force his blade down and get the other half of my weapon to make contact leaving a light cut on his throat. It wasn't enough to kill him, but the look in his eyes tells me he isn't used to being hurt.
The monster roars and tries to bring it's fist down on me, but one of the Artes Celsius showed me pops into my head. Quickly I throw all my weight forward into a shoulder tackle and make contact with the fist, stopping it cold. I swing my arm to throw off the fist and shout, "BEAST!" As if responding to my call, a spectral bear appears and bites the monster, tearing a chunk of it out.
The bear disappears and the creature howls as it recoils, leaving a trail of boiling blood in its wake. Aviur screams as if he's in pain too.
"The two are linked," Sylph says, "If one feels pain, the other will too! With that bit of info in mind, I push the attack while he's reeling.
"Icicle!" I thrust my free hand out in front of me and a half dozen sharpened columns of ice appear. Each one shoots forward, right at the giant. The spikes impale themselves in its chest and melt almost immediately due to its blood.
The beast roars as it raises its bladed arm, only to be stopped by Aviur. "ENOUGH!" The molten monstrosity vanishes almost instantly, leaving Aviur alone and leaning on his sword. "I underestimated you," he gasps. His only physical wound is the small one on his neck, but I did inflict some good damage to his beast. "Had you fought like that from the beginning, I might have had to use even more of my power." He sheathes his swords, turns, and runs away.
"You did it Max!" Sylph exclaims.
"We did it," Celsius corrects.
I hear Chen call my name, but I just can't stand any longer. I hear her footsteps as I fall to the ground, utterly exhausted. I still don't feel any pain, but right now I'm thankful for that. The last thing I feel before everything fades to black is a gentle hand on my cheek, and soft fur against my hand.
Contract with Sylph +10
Contract with Celsius +10
Rescue Chen +10
"Jailbreak Style" +20
"Defeat" Aviur +100
While I sleep, I have a dream. A dream of…
 a peaceful memory.
 my days with my master.
 a distant land (-100 grade)
Okay, so let me explain Grade real quick! You'll get grade for achieving certain goals. Most of the grade you will accumulate will be gained from advancing the story and completing milestones, such as this. You'll get some for completing "hidden" or "optional" quests as well. SOME actions will cause you to lose grade. You'll lose grade if your actions, or in action, result in a character dying or otherwise becoming incapacitated for the remainder of the story obvious exceptions are villains/antagonists.
Now, don't spend your grade all in one place. As the story progresses, "Grade Choices" will become more expensive and you'll have to choose carefully.