Of Heroes and Royals
"Is that all you got?" taunted a certain Reaper with black hair.
Naois and Fiera's battle raged on - though it was hardly much of a battle, more of a one-sided massacre. The red-haired boy looked exhausted as he suffered attack after attack - the endless beams that exploded upon impact, burning his body, the numerous slashes from Fiera's scythe that made his arms and legs surge with pain as they drew blood, and the devastating punches he'd frequently endure that were unlike anything he'd ever felt before. It all seemed to blend into a single, bloody beating.
He had proclaimed so confidently that their fight wasn't over, but it seemed like the best Naois could do was endure.
Even still - he raised his sword time and again, and every time he was knocked down he would slowly but surely get back up. For, you see, even in his current state, the boy hadn't even entertained the idea he would lose.
It would be hard for anyone else to really understand what was going through his head. The amount of delusion it took for him to ignore the taste of iron in his mouth, the blood - his OWN blood, that is - dripping from his hands, and just how much of his body was searing with pain and still somehow convince himself that he could win was, well, an unfathomable amount.
The image of Naois cutting Fiera down with his Flameblade played in the boy's mind repeatedly. But instead, it was he who continued to end up on the ground.
"I'm going to destroy you! I swear, I'll slash your very soul to shreds...!" Naois yelled, his voice audibly pained, before erupting into a fit of coughing that ended with him coughing up even more blood onto his already drenched hands.
"Do you have any idea how pathetic you look?" observed Fiera, as she watched the boy from several meters away, unable to stop herself from smirking slightly. "Why do you insist on continuing this charade? If my master were here, he'd laugh at you... laugh, and laugh, and laugh, and laugh. And even I... am having trouble containing myself. Do you think you're meant to be some kind of hero? If that's the case, it's time someone taught you how the real world works...
...because right now, we're on the battlefield, fool. And on the battlefield, the strong survive..."
One footstep. One gust of wind. One scythe, unsheathed. In an instant, Fiera closed the gap between herself and her opponent.
"...and the weak perish. That's the only rule."
Naois' mind went into shock as he felt something sharp pierce his stomach. "Wha... I... You... No... You can't... Gah..."
Fiera sheathed her scythe once more as the boy collapsed, red liquid beginning to spread out across the rooftop that had been their battlefield.
"Thanks for the entertainment," chuckled Fiera, as she began to walk away, with the intent of continuing her mission of observing Terra.
And yet, it was only after she had turned her back on her opponent that the screaming began.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Fiorir, another battle was brewing - with the God of Earth himself, Terra. At the order of the Captain of the Resistance and Mayor Fukushima, the samurai of the Cherry Blossom Town alongside as many resistance members they could contact had rallied together and surrounded the gargantuan terror that had been attacking.
So, there they were, the Captain, the Mayor, and all their comrades, stood only metres away from Terra as he towered over them, observing their opponent. And it too, seemed to be observing the small army that had gathered around it - as though he were trying to assess the potential threat. This seemed to award them a brief respite from the God of Earth's onslaught, and made it easier to take in just how much devastation the entity had caused in such a short amount of time.
In the immediate vicinity, the ruins of homes and other buildings piled high - as did the bodies. If there was anything more overwhelming than the magic power that the God of Earth radiated, it was the stench of blood.
"So, just how effective do you think a gun will be on this thing?" the Captain asked, half-joking.
"About as effective as a sword." Mayor Fukushima responded bluntly.
The green-haired man let out a sigh. "Yep, that's about what I thought. Great, just great..."
Even though they tried to remain hopeful, it was hard to deny that the situation was grim. The destruction which Terra had caused was unlike anything they'd ever seen - truly, it was the stuff of legends. It was hard to shake the feeling that, to have any chance of defeating such a creature, you'd have to have the strength rivalling that of a King or Queen.
"It's a shame you could not get in touch with your Hero." the Mayor remarked.
"Well, yeah. Akio's never mastered the art of being punctual. But who knows, maybe he'll show up in the middle of this thing, and lead us to victory." Despite the current situation, a smile grew on the Captain's face as he recalled a memory. "He'll never admit it, but he's far surpassed me now. I can tell."
As he finished talking, however, a sick feeling began to rise up from within the Captain's stomach. "That's right, so... please, Akio... don't be..."
But before the man could even finish his thought, two short samurai, a blue-haired boy and a pink-haired girl, ran up toward him and his companion. The Captain watched, slightly confused, as the look on the Mayor's face become one of frustration. Though it only took a glance at the two newcomers to see why - while they were indeed dressed like samurai, katana by their side, the boy donning a dark blue kimono and the girl a pale yellow one, they were quite clearly just teenagers.
"What the hell are you two doing here?!" exclaimed Fukushima, clearly losing his cool a little.
"We've come to help you fight, Master!" promptly responded the boy.
"That's right, even though I explicitly told you to evacuate with the rest of the town? What the hell are you two thinking?!"
"We're thinking we want to destroy the thing that destroyed our home, Master." the girl chimed in.
"That's right, Master!" the boy yelled, pointing his finger directly in his master's face. "Me, you, and Yuua, we can totally kick that thing's ass!"
"Yeah, right, okay, the boy who struggles to cut a tree trunk on a bad day, you're going to kill the God of Earth. Please, excuse your Master's foolishness. I've seen the error in my ways." The look on Fukushima's face made it pretty apparent he was being sarcastic. "For once, would you kids just do as a say?! This isn't a training exercise, Kaiyo! Look around you! Look at everything that thing has done, and look me in the eye and tell me you really believe you stand a chance."
To which, Kaiyo simply ignored the man, and turned to the Captain. "Hey, hey, you're the Captain of the Resistance, right? Do you think we can fight?"
The frustration on Fukushima's face grew even further as the Captain chuckled nervously. "That's right, I'm the Captain. Based on what I heard, you're... Kaiyo, right? And the girl, her name is Yuua?"
Both of them nodded excitedly, and the Captain just couldn't find it in his heart to turn them down.
"Well, look." He began, the two young samurai hanging on his every word. "I'm not your Master, but... I think that if someone has the will to fight, and the means to fight - be that with magic, weaponry, or some other power - then nothing should stand in their way. Age, gender, whatever else... none of that matters. We always have the right to fight for what we believe in."
"Alright!" exclaimed Kaiyo, seemingly instinctively, unable to hold in his excitement - clearly unaware of how dire the foe before them truly was. "Ya hear that, master?"
"However!" continued the Captain, and Kaiyo's attention promptly turned back to him. The look on his face had changed to one of grave seriousness. "If things go south, you run, okay? You listen to your Master, and you run. No questions asked, no hesitation."
The two young samurai gave him a proud salute - and with that, took their place among the challengers that had gathered.
"They respond to you better than they do me..." grumbled Fukushima.
"Ah, don't worry about it. That's just how teens are. It's when they keep acting like that into their twenties that you might wanna start getting concerned..." The Captain let out a deep sigh, though Fukushima knew not what he was referring to.
With that, however, the time for pleasantries was over - both men turned their attention back toward Terra. And with hope and fear rolling into one within their hearts, the Captain raised his weapon - which was an assault rifle, naturally.
The erupting sound of gunfire signalled the start of the fight. The challengers let out their battle cries, and Terra roared in response. The surrounding area seemed to erupt with light from the unleashing of spells, the endless discharge of firearms, and the sparks borne from clashes of sword and rock.
The Captain fired off an entire round at the God of Earth's left arm - and every bullet seemed to leave less of a scratch than the last. He quickly reloaded his weapon, promptly grabbing another magazine from his belt, only to get distracted by the spectacle his companion was unleashing.
"Second Form: Strong Current!" Fukushima exclaimed, as he drew his blade and leapt toward Terra.
Deep, blue water seemed to surround his weapon as he readied his attack, and the Captain could sense Magic Power radiating from it. The Mayor swung the blade as hard as he could at the God of Earth's towering arm - and the most his efforts accomplished was a surface level slash that slightly chipped away at it. The mesmerising water that surrounded the blade vanished as Fukushima let out a grunt, before kicking off Terra, sheathing his sword, and jumping back over to where the Captain stood.
"What kind of sword art did you say you used, again?" the Captain asked, still somewhat in awe.
"We call it the Itto-Tamashi - an art passed down through generations of Fiorir samurai. Our specially-crafted blades are able to utilise our Magic Power, and essentially take on the properties of our Magic Affinity." the Mayor explained, talking as fast as he could.
Both men jumped back several feet as Terra slammed the ground with both arms in front of them, creating a shockwave that nearly caused them to fly even further backwards.
The Captain then seemed to realise something. "Wait, so then... what about those kids...?"
"We use a ritual to speed up the process of Magical Maturity. Listen, Captain, why don't we discuss this over a game of chess later, and focus on the battle for now?" the Mayor asked, but didn't wait for an answer, and charged into another attack.
"Deal," and with that, the Captain proceeded to futilely fire off another round at the God of Earth. At the same time, he noticed the two young samurai from before beginning to launch their first attacks - with the girl, Yuua, in particular, catching his attention.
"First Form: Day's Dawn!" she exclaimed, as something that struck the Captain as peculiar occurred.
The pink-haired girl's blade became coated in pure, radiant light. She leapt at Terra, in a similar fashion to her master - only much faster, and her slash seemed to cut a little deeper. Of course, this wasn't indicative of much, as the God of Earth's arm was so large it was capable of crushing them in an instant.
"That girl... I get it, she must be of..." the Captain thought to himself.
As for the boy, Kaiyo, he repeated the same attack as his master, which somehow did even less damage to their foe. However, he then seemed to get an idea and ran off toward the river that ran through the centre of Fiorir - which was now in plain view, seeing as any houses obstructing the path had been cleared out of the way.
The Captain overheard Fukushima let out a groan as he sheathed his blade after another unsuccessful attack. "Ugh, is he going to try his little parlour trick again? Now?"
And less than thirty seconds later, the blue-haired boy was back at breakneck speed, a long, thick trail of water connecting his blade to the aforementioned river. He jumped high into the air and toward Terra - seemingly aided by this mysterious water, which looked to carry his blade as high as he wanted to go.
"Take this, you rock bastard! This is the power of... my beloved home!!" he exclaimed, raising his sword over his head. "Fourth Form: Waterfall!"
And at once, the boy thrust his sword downward, finally beginning his descent.
What the boy had hoped for was to slash Terra's arm all the way down to ground level. The Fourth Form of the Itto-Tamashi for those with Water Affinity, Waterfall, grows stronger the longer one descends.
And with Kaiyo's "parlour trick", this technique certainly was powerful - strong enough to strike deeper into the rock body of the God of Earth than either his Master or friend. However, that's all that happened, for the boy's blade became stuck.
Water drenched the ground below in the aftermath of the attack as the boy began to panic. Try as he might, no matter how hard he pulled, his beloved sword would not come free of the God of Earth's body - which, perhaps, would not have been so bad if this attack had done critical damage. But evidently, it had not, though Terra had taken notice of the annoyance on his arm.
"Kaiyo! Just let go! We'll catch you!" Fukushima called out, but the boy ignored his master, desperate to try and save his blade so he could continue fighting.
The Captain sprung into action.
"Gimmie a boost, Fukushima. You've got that kind of strength, right?"
At once, the Mayor cupped his hands and gave the Captain a boost - launching him into the air with one incredible feat of strength. The Captain landed on Terra's arm, easily steadying himself and ensuring he wouldn't fall with one hand, and using the other to pull Kaiyo, along with his blade, free.
The boy and his blade fell to the ground to be caught by his master, much to Yuua's relief, who was standing nearby.
The Captain, on the other hand, now in prime position decided to take the initiative. Using Terra's arm as a footstool to jump higher in the air, he pulled a grenade off his belt, pulled out the pin, and threw it at the God of Earth - just as it was beginning to reach its giant arm toward the man.
"Hey, big guy, did you drop a small, green explosive around here?!"
A cheeky smile grew on the Captain's face as the grenade exploded upon contact with Terra's arm. The area began to fill with smoke, and the man's nose was bombarded with the smell of gunpowder.
"Sorry! Never mind! That was me!"
However, the Captain's cheeky smile soon vanished as his intuition told him something was up.
"Crap, too much smoke...!" he thought to himself. "I can't see!"
But it was too late to do anything about it. You see, the God of Earth hadn't just been reaching toward the man before. It was only as a giant, rocky fist came toward him through the smoke that the Captain of the Resistance realised the gravity of what was truly happening.
Instinctively, the man crossed his arms in an attempt to block this attack - but he knew, in reality, this wouldn't make any difference.
A horrific crack filled the ears of everyone in the area as the Captain of the Resistance took the worst, full-body blow he could have ever taken. At once, the man felt like he was being crushed by the weight of the world as a countless number of his bones broke and a whirlwind of pain shook every fibre of his being.
At an unimaginable speed, the man was sent flying through the air in a shower of crimson.
"Was it testing us? Or was it... toying with us?"
The Captain's comrades on the ground didn't have time to process the terrible image that was being burned into their retinas, as the God of Earth had finally decided to get serious. He swept the ground with his other arm, ending the lives of many in every instant - and the two young samurai, Kaiyo and Yuua, watched all of this happen as time seemed to slow down.
In those moments, their faces wore a look no child should ever have to wear.
It seemed as though they were done for, just like the many resistance members and their fellow samurai that were being slaughtered before their very eyes. And time continued to slow, they noticed, even as their Master grabbed them both in an embrace, and took the brunt of Terra's brutal attack.
And while all of this occurred, a satisfied smile grew on the face of one Doctor Azazel Hatter as he watched from above, blissfully sipping his tea.