Chapter 25:

Unchanging Hearts


With no time to waste, it’s clear to everyone that the newly arrived enemy is the bigger threat than Sophia at the moment. They need to protect Sophia while she is vulnerable.

“AHHH TO HELL WITH IT!!!”- Leo shouts, charging at the armor.

Claudius quickly realized what he needed to do and rushed in along with Leo.


As ridiculous as that request was, it managed to snap Amber out of the state she was in. She realized that if she doesn't do anything here, everyone will lose their life. The armor raised its sword, locking its eyes on the approaching Leo. Unexpectedly, instead of running at it, Leo ran past it.

“HUH????”- Claudius, Amber and Natalie all said.

“Flamethrower!”- Leo casted, doing a quick 180 turn.

Flame spewed out from the top of his staff, hitting the armor. The effect of the flame doesn't seem to be doing anything, just like during the hero’s battle. The armor tanked the flame attack, slowly walking towards Leo. “BAM” Claudius slammed into it, sending it falling to the ground. Leo quickly dodged the armor, running back behind Claudius.

“Phew! I lost around 10 years’s worth of my life there pulling that stunt.”- Leo said, clutching his heart.

“Abyssal Blast!”- Claudius cast, shooting the spell directly at the armor.

The spell lands a direct hit on it, the damage seems minimal, but the slow effect has been applied. The armor stood back up, it’s eye glowing a bright red. It has now entered into enraged mode. Even with the extra speed, the armor couldn’t catch up to Claudius because of the slow effect.

“Keep our distance from this thing and we should be fine.”- Claudius said.

“Nimbus!”- Amber casts, hoping that at least one of the thunderbolts would land on it this time.

A small black cloud formed above the armor, and lighting bolts rained down onto it. To her surprise, multiple thunderbolts managed to land direct hits onto the armor, due to the slow effect.

“Looks like you lost again, this body is back to the appropriate owner. It’s time for me to finish this battle.”- Dark Elf Sophia stood up, it seems like she managed to overpower Sophia’s consciousness and took control of the body once more.

Natalie and Amber were so occupied by the battle that they didn't even notice Dark Elf Sophia behind them. Claudius and Leo were also too far away. This is her best chance to take them all out. As she raises her hand, getting ready to cast a spell at Natalie and Amber, Dark Elf Sophia suddenly finds herself unable to.

“What are these new emotions I’m feeling? Why am I feeling sad? Why doesn’t my body want to listen to me?”- Dark Elf Sophia hesitates as thoughts begin flowing into her head.

“Just one hit! They don’t even know you’re right behind them! You’ll win the battle.”- She wanted to attack, but still couldn't.

“Tsk. Whatever, I’ll deal with them later.”- Dark Elf Sophia said, accepting her situation.

She walked up to Amber and Natalie, who both were shocked by her. Before they could cast their spells to defend themselves, Dark Elf Sophia said:

“Don’t bother, your friend here doesn't want me to hurt you guys. It’s annoying, but I’ll help you for now.”

As the three turn their attention back towards the armor, it’s still tanking hits from Claudius, who is shooting Abyssal Blast at it.

“SOPHIA IS BACK! WELL… NOT COMPLETELY, BUT SHE IS WILLING TO HELP US!”- Natalie shouts the message to Leo and Claudius.

As Dark Elf Sophia rushes towards Leo and Claudius, Natalie casts Downpour. Heavy rain appears, cooling down the burning armor. Leo combos the move by casting Icicle, turning the rain into an attack. The icicle hits the armor, but doesn't seem to be able to pierce it. An energy beam, in the form of an arrow, appeared from where Dark Elk Sophia stands, shooting at the armor. The attack seems to have done some damage to it, knocking it back. Natalie and Leo are both exhausted, as they are close to running out of mana. Amber and Dark Elf Sophia both have massive mana pools, but Amber has been using more mana consuming spells so she’s also near the end of her abilities. Claudius still has leftover mana, but he only knows basic level spells that will help them, but it’s not good enough to win the fight.

“So, does anyone have any ideas?”- Leo asks.

“Aren’t you the group leader? YOU come up with something you pathetic swine!”- Dark Elk Sophia said.

“Actually, I have a plan!”- Claudius eagerly said, drawing all the attention to him.

“Please, does anyone else have any ideas?”- Leo asks again.

No one said a word, Claudius was the only one raising his hands, jumping up and down in excitement.

“Sigh, I didn’t want it to come down to this. We’ll listen to what Claudius has to say. Someone buy some time for him.”- Leo said.

Claudius, Leo and Dark Elf Sophia rushed back, regrouping with Amber and Natalie. The armor is still attempting to chase them, slowed by the Abyss spell effects. Dark Elf Sophia uses the same strategy as before, creating a massive wall trying to prevent it from reaching them. Loud banging sounds can be heard as the armor attempts to break through.

“That should buy us some time. I’ll cast one or two more if it manages to break through. State your plan fast, you insect.”- Dark Elf Sophia said.

“Ok, so we hit him with a bomb. Amber and Sophia, do you guys have any form of explosion attack?”- Claudius asks.

“I have one, but it’s accuracy is way worse than all of my usual spells.”- Amber said, looking uncertain.

“I have a bomb-like spell too. Doubt it will work though since that armor thing is one of the Demon Lord’s apostles. It will just absorb the dark energy emitted from the bomb.”- Dark Elf Sophia explains.

“Ok, then we’ll settle on Amber’s bomb.”- Claudius said.

“Really? Are you absolutely sure? It will most likely miss!”- Amber voiced her concern.

“It won’t miss if we bring the bomb to it!”- Claudius confidently answers.

Amber, Sophia, and Natalie all look at Claudius in confusion. The armor finally manages to break through the wall, determined to chase them. An annoyed Dark Elf Sophia summons another wall, blocking its path again. Claudius is still quite confident about his plan, smiling.

“So how are we going to carry the bomb to that thing?”- Leo suddenly said while picking his nose, turning the group’s attention over to him.

Next thing Leo knows is that he is now the bomb carrier, held up by Claudius in the air. Dark Elf Sophia has casted Rock Armor, giving Leo a layer of protection.

“WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE ME?!?!?”- Leo screams.

“Stop complaining, you are the most suitable one. The wall won’t last for long so we have to do this fast.”- Dark Elf Sophia said.

“Ok, here comes nothing.”- Amber said, casting the fire based spell Energy Overload.

Leo is forced to be in a laid down position, with his hands stretched all the way out. A ball of energy concentrates near his palms, (He is covered completely by Rock Armor), quickly increasing in size and giving off a crazy amount of heat.

“Have you ever casted this spell before?”- Leo asks.

“Uh no. This is my first time. I can’t guarantee your safety, but trust me, it will explode.”- Amber replies with a cheeky smile.


“Have a safe journey! We’ll miss you!”- Natalie said, saluting with tears while looking at Leo.

“I’M STILL ALIVE HERE! WHY ARE YOU TREATING ME LIKE I’M GONNA DIE?!?”- Leo continues his useless screaming.

Rumbling sounds can be heard as the armor broke through the wall once again, this time even angrier than the last. It seems like the slowing effect has finally worn off. The armor rushes at the group, even though it is still quite a distance away.

“Good luck!”- Claudius said.

“Can you tell my famILLLL…”- Leo’s voice trails off as he is yeeted by Claudius.

“Grant me your blessing, goddess Sylvia. GREAT TYPHON”- Sophia casts, using the last bit of her mana.

Leo gained momentum from the typhoon, flying at incredible speed towards the armor. The ball that he held became bigger and bigger in size, giving off bright lights. The armor spots Leo, and changes its focus on him. It forms some kind of dark barrier, bracing itself for the attack, but it was too late. Before the barrier could be formed, the flying Leo slammed into it head on. “BOOM” an explosion soon followed, sending a crazy shockwave that almost sent everyone flying. The area is engulfed in lights, emitted from a giant ball of energy. Amber has casted another Barrier around Leo’s body under the Rock Armor just in case. It did come in handy as it protected Leo even after the outer layer of the Rock Armor broke. The light faded away, leaving behind a massive crater of where the path was.

“Am I still alive?”- Leo thought to himself, seeing white lights.

“Did I just die another lame death? No, actually this one was kind of cool.”- Leo smiled.

“Hell no you moron, you’re still alive!”- Amber said, slapping Leo awake.

“Oh shit! What?!?”- Leo jolts up, looking around.

The whole group had run down the crater to check on Leo, it seemed like the explosion had broken the armor into many pieces. It’s core is exposed, floating in the air in the middle of the crater.

“The battle isn’t over yet. Don’t get complacent. That thing is still alive, watch out for its head. Last time I fought it, the head shot out some kind of dark beam.”- Amber cautioned.

Everyone frantically searches around, looking for the head before the armor can reform itself. In under 20 seconds, Natalie spotted the head, pointing at it. They all rushed to grab it, throwing it outside the crater to prevent it from using it’s attack.

“No time to waste.”- Leo said, as Claudius nodded in agreement.

The two rushes over to where the floating core is at, trying to destroy it before the armor can reform itself around the core. Amber has a bad feeling in her gut. Her intuition screams that something is off. Amber frantically searched around, finally, she noticed one of the hands close to the core was shaking. She was sure that it was the threat, and rushed over to it. Leo got to the core first, trying to break it using his staff, but it was ineffective. Claudius then prepares himself to headbutts the thing, relying on his super hardened skin. Suddenly, just like Amber feared, some kind of dark magic enveloped the whole crater, forming some sort of room. Instantly, the severed hand disappeared, replaced by the head. It once charged up with the same beam attack as back then, aiming for Leo and Claudius.

“SHIT, NOT AGAIN! I HAVE TO PULL THIS OFF!”- Her thoughts screamed with all of her determination.

“I WILL NOT LET YOU SUCCEED AGAIN. COME, FIREBALL!!”- Amber shouted with all of her might.

Time seemed to slow down once again, with Leo and Claudius occupied with the orb. Natalie just noticed what’s wrong when she saw Amber. Dark Elf Sophia is rushing towards where Leo and Claudius are. The head charges it’s attack, almost launching it. From Amber’s staff, energy focused itself, forming into a fireball, launching itself at the Armor’s head. It misses once again, at the most crucial moment. Tears rolled down Amber’s eyes, this time different from the last, her eyes filled with pure determination.

“I REFUSE TO LOSE! NOT MY FRIENDS! NOT TO YOU! NOT TO MYSELF!!!”- Amber shouts, rushing at it.

With all of her might, she swung her staff downward in an arcing motion. As the head shoots its beam, it is dislodged by Amber, who just pulled a pro gamer move. She swung at the head using her staff like a golf player, sending the head flying to the sky. The head shot its beam in the air into an unknown direction. At the same time, Claudius headbutts the core, cracking it. He then slammed his head into it, biting it, punching it, kissing it. With all of his efforts, the crack widens. Dark Elf Sophia wasted no time, throwing a boulder at it, breaking it into pieces. A shockwave was sent out from the center, knocking everyone against the wall.

“How… many more… shockwaves… do we have… to”- Leo said in pain, looking at the core.

A small black crystal fell out of it. The head finally fell back down from the sky, its eye no longer glowing. The battle is won. Amber could’t believed what happened, they finally defeated the source of her trauma. This whole time, she feared that she was inadequate. She has managed to overcome it. Emotions poured into her. For the first time Amber cried tears of joy, crying for a while. Everyone else was in pain, laying down in their spot. Sophia seemed to have passed out, with her hair returning to the usual blonde, and her skin turning back to normal. A solid 5 minutes passes, the crater is filled only with the sound of Amber crying.

“That should be enough time. We need to go before they find us.”- Leo said, struggling to get up.

Natalie and Claudius agreed. They just won an impossible battle, but it will be for naught if they get captured here. The group managed to climb out of the crater, with Leo picking up the black crystal and putting it into his bag. Claudius puts Sophia on his back, struggling to walk. Even though they were insistent on getting out of there, they were all super exhausted. The four limped their way down the road away from the capital, leaning on each other to walk.

“I would… touch your boobs.. so much right now… if I wasn’t exhausted.”- Leo jokes, looking at Natalie.

“I don’t have… the energy… to punch you right now…”- Natalie replies.

“Shut up… we don’t have time for this…”- Amber said.

The night sky serves as a beautiful backdrop, the cool breeze of the night refreshes the air. The group slowly made their way further down the path, only to make a sudden stop. A man is heading towards their direction, his body covered in scars, holding a black blade. They all stared at him, knowing that they were his target.

“We have made it this far. There is no way it ends here.”- Leo said, trying to prepare himself for battle.

All of them are out of mana, all physically drained and none have any combat skill. Sophia is completely out cold. They are in a dire situation.

“No, he isn’t here for you guys. He is here for me.”- Claudius said with a serious look, staring at the approaching man.

The man stopped right as he got near the group, keeping a fair amount of distance between them. He can tell that his opponents were clearly exhausted, but he still wants to be cautious.

“I’m Giza, The Abyss Traverser. Nice to meet you.”-He introduces himself.

“Giza?!? The ranked 8 adventurer from Elqium? It’s so unlikely we can even take him on in our current condition.”- Leo thought to himself.

“It seems like we have some kind of misunderstanding here. I’ll just say it now. I’m not interested in what Lorcan wants, so you all can be relieved that you don’t have to fight me. However, what I’m here for is that Abyss creature. I’m here to slay it.”- Giza states.

“I know this man, I have seen him multiple times while I was living in the Abyss. He only hunts void creatures.”- Claudius explains.

“Well, that makes it a lot easier if this thing acknowledges it. You should step away from it. Void creatures aren’t to be messed with.”- Giza said.

“Are you kidding me? That’s our friend! You think we’ll just let you tell us what to do?”- Leo angrily said.

After a brief moment of silence, Claudius looked over at Leo, Amber and Natalie, giving them a smile.

“Thank you for standing up for me, it has been fun. I love traveling with you guys. It’s unfortunate that we can’t go on anymore adventures together. I’ll always remember you all.”- Claudius said.

“You can’t be serious. Claudius! Don’t listen to this bastard! We can still win!”- Leo desperately said.

Claudius turns around, neatly putting Sophia’s body down on the ground.

“Take care of her. You guys need to make it out of here alive.”- Claudius said, walking towards Giza.

“I’m the one you want right? Promise me you’ll guarantee their safety, they are my dearest of friends.”- Claudius requested.

“That’s funny. You aren’t in any position to negotiate. I make the decisions here.”- Giza sternly states.

“You guys are the only ones who accepted me after seeing who I truly am, a hideous monster. For that I’ll forever treasure our friendship as the most genuine one I had ever gotten. I hope I can meet people like you guys in my next life.”- Claudius thought to himself, closing his eyes and waiting for the attack by Giza.

“What are you doing? Get out of my way.”- Giza can be heard asking.

Claudius opens his eyes again, confused about the commotion. Leo had somehow made his way to where Giza is, trying to put Giza into a hold to prevent him from using his blade. The two struggled, but of course Leo was swiftly removed, punched and thrown to the side by Giza. He rushes over to Claudius, trying to end his job fast. Just like before, he was stopped by Natalie and Amber, who jumped in front of Claudius.

“Last warning! Move out of the way or I will slice you along with him!”- Giza warns.

“You are protecting people right? That’s why you kill monsters in the Abyss. Claudius is not a monster, he is just like anyone else.”-Amber said.

“What would you know about me? You think I’m not willing to kill humans? That's where you’re wrong. I’ll sacrifice them all if that’s what it takes to slay the Abyss creature.”- Giza becomes frustrated.

He shoved the exhausted Amber and Natalie to the side, sending them flying a few feet away with a quick, simple touch.

“Bruh, why did you punch me but not them?”- Leo said, still laying on the ground in pain.

Giza rushed directly in front of Claudius, he intended for this to end quickly before Leo could get back up. He looks directly at Claudius, who is only smiling, saying:

“Don’t be too rough on them, I know they are fools.”

Claudius closes his eyes again, waiting for the inevitable. Memories started filling Giza’s head, the reason why he hunted Abyss monsters. He sees an image of a young boy, living together with his parents. Flash, the house is now in shambles, the village destroyed. His parents have hid him inside a small crack in the floor, telling him to stay quiet. Void creatures rush inside the house, roaring, killing his dad. As the mom was cornered, she uttered her last words “We all love you.” The boy stayed hidden, crying in despair until he was rescued by a group of people. “Everything will be fine,” he was told. They slayed all the void creatures. Holding the black and yellow banner, it was a group of Elqium members. The boy decided to take up his swords, joining and learning for only one purpose, to kill all abyss monsters. The boy, now grown into the current Giza, is standing directly across a void creature. Unlike what he had then his whole career about them, this creature is being protected desperately by a group of humans.

“If I kill him now, I would be no different.”- Giza whispered.

To everyone’s surprise, Giza backed down, putting his blades away.

“You have changed my mind. If I had felt any further hostility from you, I would have killed you without hesitation. Just because I spared you this time doesn’t mean you are in the clear.”- Giza said.

“If you ever kill a single human being, I’ll hunt both you and your party down. Remember that.”- He warns.

Claudius stood there dumbfounded, shocked by the unexpected change of heart.

“Better be thankful for your friends here. If it weren’t for them, I would have killed you by now.”- Giza said his final words, walking past them.

It is Claudius’s turn to now be filled with emotion. He gathered everyone up, giving them one big hug even though they were too tired to move around.

“I would cry if I had the ability to make tears, so for now just take my word for it. I love you guys so much.”- Claudius said, clinging on to them even harder.

The group hurried their way down the path, now officially leaving the capital’s grounds. Sophia woke up from her nap, returning to the normal version, all confused with fogged memories. With one big sigh, the group celebrates once they made it into a nearby forest. As they all smiled, congratulating each other, Claudius looked far into the sky, taking one deep breath.

“Hey, I know this might sound weird but I have this crazy story I want to tell. Would you all mind hearing it?”- Claudius asks.

“Sure!”- Everyone replies.

End of arc 2.