Chapter 27:

Azama - I


Azama's first course of action was to lift his pistol. To all those present, it appeared as any other gun. That being, an illegal and otherwise uncommon item within the USA. Used only by units such as the MED, groups of non-mages with otherwise no tool at their disposal.

As such, the slightly concerned students weren't terrified of such a weapon. More so, a bit taken aback by its existence.


Save for one, that was. He, unlike the others, had been familiarised with such a tool. The area he grew up in, Walpa, was a significant hub for gun trafficking.

Therefore, that same student heard the metallic click of the hammer of a revolver. Being the only one with any knowledge on firearms. He properly recognized the pistol to be, in fact, a Kad & Ból model 300. A heavy-duty revolver made to shoot cartridges that punctured monster hides.

That student, who also happened to be a mage, grimaced. He understood the consequences of getting shot. Envisioning a grisly image of a large wet hole in the centre of his torso.

Really? Thought Tommy. Frustrated at his one weakness other than getting punched, killed with magic, stabbed, slashed, bludgeoned, and poisoned being exploited.

Was it truly his destiny to escape the fiend, then promptly die a day later to his gun of all things?

At a loss for words, Tommy searched for a way out. Per custom, he defaulted to using his rhetoric. He was armed with sufficient charisma, he believed. Thus, he figured that bullshitting was the proper path, as was the case at many points in his life.

"Consider your position carefully, Azama." He spoke with no fear or indiscretion. "I have a protective spell that will reflect the strength of your bullet tenfold."

Tommy's confidence offset an otherwise unbelievable remark. He stared unwaveringly at Azama, thinking of the promise of victory. Unfortunately, Tommy had not prepared for the interference of others.

It was Ceylica who called out without an ounce of hesitation, "Damn, really, Tommy? I didn't know ye could do that!"

Mark my words Ceylica, I will have my due vengeance.

Tommy's eyes never looked away, still fixated on the mercenary in front of him. He flashed a hand towards the half-demon and replied, "A true mage never shows their deck, Ceylica."

The mage swallowed in his dry throat. Confident that his bluff had succeeded. He believed as much before he saw a movement from the vampire in front of him. There, Valefar raised a finger and gave a wry smile. Though there was no concrete evidence, Tommy understood it to be a prelude to something he would describe as 'disadvantageous'.

Observing, Tommy noticed Valefar snort through his nose. Then, with a long shut of his eyes, he opened his mouth.

"Listen, Tommy, it's not too late to die with dignity." Amused, Valefar's crimson pupils reflected an almost sadistic satisfaction. "If you... Roll over and lie in a corner. I'm sure Azama will consider killing you last."

Unable to help himself, Tommy's pride and rage exhumed all traces of worry. The mage paused and turned his body to face the vampire. On his face then was a smile, and succeeding, an uncontrolled chortle of laughter.

"Hahahaha." Tommy's chuckle escaped between the crevices of his fingers. He trembled in delight with his hand's palm over his face.

The sound that rose from his throat originated not from madness. No, Tommy would never accept such a standard. The laughter that came was more akin to the bellow of a king. Far more sophisticated and regal in its presentation.

"Hahahahahaha." As Tommy continued, his right eye tightened with anger. "For a parasite like yourself to judge me is more than incomprehensible."

The vampire glared at the boy. Insulted, Valefar moved to speak but then held himself. Granting Tommy a due release of his emotion.

"Don't lump me in with you scum; you pale-skinned leech. Unlike your wretched race of blood-suckers, I don't fear death, only sorry for a world where my existence isn't in it."

From Tommy's current position, lashing out was clearly unfavourable. Even so, he made no effort to stop himself. His pride wouldn't allow the bitter acceptance of insult. Instead, Tommy chose to point to Azama and make a last act of deference.

"Have it your way, knave. Shoot me down and get it over with. But ideally." Tommy gestured to Valefar, "Take him out afterwards, won't you? And if possible, let his rotting corpse be eaten by maggots. I find it only fitting for a parasite to be consumed by one of its kind."

The mercenary nodded. "Alrighty, then, but don't say I'm not generous!"

Azama followed on Tommy's request. He did as he was told and pulled the trigger with a nod. By that point, a bang echoed from the gun. The result was that Tommy crumpled on himself, thrown to the wooden ground with a harsh thud.

The boy's face stiffened at the pain. And at that very moment, Tommy realized that the fact he still felt something meant he was alive. It was a rubber bullet that'd been fired. He understood that when he saw its black shape at the other end of the room.

The mage was unable to delight in his survival, however. A moment later and a literal gun came flying through the air. Conveniently knocking Tommy unconscious upon contact with his head.

Everyone looked on in astonishment. The loom of battle seemed to near with every second. They did not know much about Tommy's capabilities but thought his imminent defeat a surprise nonetheless.

The Paladin in full plate tightened her grip on the weapon. Warm breaths of air pushed back against her helmet and wetted her face. She stared at the unfeeling mercenary and offered the tip of her spear, thrilled at the hope of battle.

"If it is a battle you desire, then so be it. I Jaiga al Heilewis, Paladin of Jangsgrude hereby challenge you to a duel!"

To demonstrate her ability and willingness, Jaiga twirled the spear around in a spectacle of dexterity and sleight of hand. She was finishing when Azama's eyes widened, and he opened his arms as if waiting for a hug.

"Very well then, I Azama Meyos, honoured mercenary of the government and now Rainee, accept your challenge!"

Said the mercenary, his tone possessing all the bravado and wit the Paladin hoped for.

Giving no time for a follow-up, Jaiga charged onwards.

"Oh, not so fast!"

What? Jaiga questioned.

Having chosen the path of violence, an elated Ceylica ran forward simultaneously. Her plan, or lack thereof, was to immediately resort to fisticuffs. She'd crossed the distance with an almost blinding speed and went to punch Azama.

The unruly thump of her footsteps quelled Jaiga's passion. She listened to the thickened grunts and voices of the duo and felt her breaths come in and out with greater intensity.


The half-demon and mercenary embroiled themselves in a gruelling battle.

Jaiga aimed to find an opening. But between them, running from atop one table to the next, changing positions and shifting dynamic every second, the opportunity was ill-found.

The Paladin worked to find a solution. Her heart set itself on battle, and on the idea of a duel. Simultaneously, she also understood that it was improbable. She felt almost tangibly the fault of her naivete. And so, her heart waned between two choices. Either to stay behind and fight Azama singlehandedly later or to apprehend a potentially dangerous target and save the students in the tower.

"Ceylica and Valefar, try to pin him down!"

The vampire gave an annoyed glance. His curled lip and grunt told all Jaiga needed to know.

If the vampire proves uncooperative, then what of her? Jaiga cast her eyes to Ceylica but immediately understood. It's hopeless.

For all intents and purposes, the half-demon didn't even pay attention to her. Through Ceylica's excited gasps and incoherent war cries, it was evident that nothing would get through her.

But Jaiga didn't give up yet. She clung on to the bitter struggle as always and charged forward. The Paladin looked around her. The mercenary backed himself up against a wall at the far right of the room.

"Try to keep up if you can!" Azama rumbled.

Jaiga did not realise he was far from cornered.

The Gossamer Fiend, meanwhile, had just sprinted up a wall. Vertically scaling it to just his height's length, he then jumped. The force of his lift was enough to carry him a sizeable distance. As a result, the mercenary's arm could grab the outer rim of a chandelier.

Its disturbance made an antique swinging sound. The moment it swayed to the left, Azama pushed with his legs to the right. He converted his force to momentum and then jumped yet again. Again and again, he moved from one chandelier to the next, gradually increasing in height.

Valefar whispered under his breath with his right arm outstretched, having seen a chance at entertainment. Upon the shut of his lips, his right arm shook. Blood began pouring through his skin as if it were a sieve. Positioned then in the palm of his hand was a red orb blob of floating scarlet. Valefar whispered something once more, and the blood evolved into a scythe.

When he noticed Azama right in between one chandelier and the next, the vampire threw the scythe. The blood weapon flew like a projectile, cutting through the metal wire of Azama's intended chandelier. It then curved like a boomerang back, dissecting the metal wire of each chandelier in an arc.

The room fell into a dampened quiet. Each student facing their own conundrum. Had Valefar not attacked so cruelly, then such a situation could've been avoided.

But he didn't. He'd thrown his scythe without consequence for others. At his behest, a series of potentially dangerous objects began to descend.

Conscious of what could happen, Jaiga dashed forward. She'd dropped her spear midway even to gain speed. Her destination was the limp Tommy, located just beneath a chandelier.

One by one, the hanging lights toppled like stalagmites from a ceiling—bits of broken glass and metal in the wake of their untimely destruction. The rhythmic beat of the chandeliers continued for a quick but seemingly infinite moment.

And then it happened. Atop the body of another came the crash of glass and skin.

Steward McOy
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