Chapter 40:

Azama - IV


“Play time’s over, kids!”

The mech shook itself. It swayed from side to side with such intensity that Jaiga herself was thrown off. The mech then lifted what was left of its half-broken sword.


The blade hit an enemy on the opposite side of the arena.

It had thrown it to the still-intact Reapali the Second, slicing it in two halves.

Next, an additional compartment extended from its back.

Jetpacks. Bursting with such force and energy that it propelled the mech into the air, lending it the capability of flight. Or so it seemed. On closer inspection, the initial setup for the mech was taking longer than usual. Two seconds had passed, and it still hadn’t lifted. Offering the students some time to prepare.

As a result, Jaiga turned to the still-standing Valefar.


She wasn't alone in the conversation this time. Tommy was present too. He was looking at Valefar. Glancing at him amicably.

"I applaud you for your efforts, vampire."

Stopping Tommy’s needless formalities, Valefar replied, "Get to the point."

Tommy grunted. "Give me your blood."

The vampires' veins began to bulge, and his blood went through his skin, creating a large puddle. Tommy, who was looking over it, gave an appreciative nod.

"Twenty seconds. Protect me for twenty seconds, and I'll have it done."

He then took out another page of his book and set about his incantations.

In the meantime, Jaiga looked to Valefar, too, her eyes showing a modicum of self-restraint.

Before she could speak, the vampire interrupted. "It's impossible."

The stiff, ragged response indicated all Jaiga needed to know. There would be no spear. No additional weapon of bloodied proportions.

Very well.

She glanced around the arena. Her eyes were in search of a long cylindrical piece of white.

There! Jaiga intoned mentally. Her spear was on the other side of the arena. Residing in the general direction of where she had thrown it prior and, most probably, having bounced off the impenetrable glass of a dome.

Her muscles tightened.

Still aching for combat, Jaiga made a run for it, conveniently dashing before walls whenever she could. Her sprint lasted a good five seconds. When she arrived at the other end of the arena, the paladin dropped to her knee. Whatever enjoyment distilled from taking her spear, however, was untimely interrupted.


Jaiga did not enjoy that sound. She recognized it as a chorus of tortured wails.

The sound had come from nowhere and seemingly surrounded the whole of the arena, piercing out from every place all at once. Jaiga eyed around, turning her back to the wall. There at the centre of the whole arena, came a slew of these monsters. Pouring out from the ground, defying the very notion of a physical barrier.

Ashen wraiths. She grinned. They'll track and follow anyone with Resolve.

Jaiga was staring at dozens of those creatures, assessing their power. Having confirmed that many were heading her way, she prepared herself, hoping the others would do well.

“Behold; let it not be said that I am without mercy.”

Jaiga’s spear impaled two wraiths.

“I joy before the prospect of peace.” Her hand crushed the head of another. “Yet revel in the prospect of battle all the same. Oh, sinful souls. Let me send thine meridians into salvation.” Jaiga called out, her lips forming a wider and wider smile. “Let me carve thine bodies as I would cake!”

Every last part of her being engaged in combat. Mind, body and soul alike.

Around the same time, the other students were dealing with their own slew of problems.

They were watching as Tommy’s demon ‘Azazel’ fought against the mech. It was a massive creature that stood on four legs like a centaur. Sporting a long, almost horse-like body on its lower half and a humanoid torso on its upper. Yet, unlike a centaur, it had two additional arms sprouting from its back like a pair of wings. Furthermore, its skin was an abnormal shade of snow-white, riddled with holes that expanded outwards and inwards as if breathing in air.

It served little consolation, however. While it did stop the mech from mauling the remaining students, there were still other enemies to take into consideration.

"Not again!"

Renra's tone was fearful. The wraiths were nearing his position. He estimated that they were faster than him and, as such, made no attempt to run away. Instead, he stood his ground. Waiting where the others had gathered. Valefar, Ceylica and Tommy included.

"Your demon." The vampire reminded Tommy.

"Is currently engaged in a battle with the mech and hence unable to provide support."

"Trust me!" Ceylica thumped her chest. "You've got the only demon ye need here boys!"

After a brief pause, Tommy chuckled. "The day I need you will be the day pigs fly, Ceylica."

"Somewhere in the world, maybe pigs really do fly then!" Ceylica shouted. Then in a stance for battle.

Following her lead, Tommy readied his knife, Valefar his boxing stance, and Renra a borderline comedic shuffle of his arms. The wraiths then lurched at them from all directions. Dozens in number, rushing in an attack lacking in rhyme or reason, substantiated on pure instinct and desire for the power of their soul, for their Resolve alone.

Swallowing a gulp, Renra braced. He looked at several wraiths, arm's length away at best. And continued to look as they went past him, instead attacking the others.


Renra was watching one grapple at Tommy.

None of it made sense. Renra had seen them target him prior to when he was in the dungeon with Valefar. That was his assumption. He recalled vividly how they rushed towards him, clamouring in his general direction in pursuit of god knows what…

W-wait! Maybe they weren't targeting me. He understood. No, they were targeting Valefar!

He came to a sudden understanding. The wraiths weren't targeting him. Even at that moment, they were fighting the others. Renra struggled nervously with the thought, wondering with a shake of his legs.

Then he came upon a thought. Why were the wraiths attacking the others and not him? What did they have that he didn’t? After adopting this mindset, Renra finally came to understand.

It was a simple reason, really.

It was because Renra himself lacked something that the others did.

Unlike the others, Renra had no Resolve, special abilities, or Idiosyncrasies, for that matter.

And, as such, was exempt from the wraith's judgement.


Renra looked to the source of the sound; nerve stricken and fearful. There he saw Tommy’s demon. He trembled uncomfortably at the sight. Azama’s mech had lifted into the air, but Tommy’s demon was still clinging onto it, supporting its weight with the two arms on its torso, holding onto the mech’s legs even then.

Vigour and hope escaped Renra. The longer he looked at the sight, the more certain he was of the fact that there would be no hope of victory. But as Renra continued to look, he also saw something new. From the very place the demons spawned were a series of platforms.

A series of strange person-length stone blocks.

Lifting into a giant spiral pattern, forming into what appeared to be the stairs that ascended to the very tip of the arena, ten Ceylica's in height.

The sudden manifestation aside, there was also another detail.

On the very top of the stairs, beyond all the climbing it would take, was a small platform, and on it, a pedestal with a weapon. To be more specific, a rocket-propelled grenade, often abbreviated as an RPG or, in slang, 'BAZOOKA'.

Tommy looked at the weapon, slashed through a wraith, and scrutinised Renra.

"Hurry along now! If you are without Resolve, you will do well to wield that weapon at the very least!"

"A-alright!" was all Renra had to sputter out, already running midway. Kicking into overdrive, the boy sprinted. Never halting, even for a second, Renra ran for a grand duration of a half-minute.

I’m here!

He stopped just short of a platform. Half his body is in height. Far too high up for him to just jump onto it.

Realising he would have no choice but to heave himself up, the boy inhaled.

Rule One of Masters' Tenets. He thought with a pull. Positive thinking!

Something about the finality of the whole ordeal put his body into a greater drive than before.

He was climbing every platform then, every makeshift stair with a shout accompanying it, ignoring the chafe of the stone against his skin. There was no time to think about anything else. Even the height, which he normally would’ve feared, remained little more than an afterthought.

In the end, Renra – who had climbed over eighteen stairs, reached the top.

A long tube-shaped RPG sat suspended vertically, illuminated by a beam of light that seemed to come from above. As a prize, Renra stepped forth and took hold of the weapon.

There was an unspoken sentiment in his heart. Though his hands shook with every second, it was his heart, first and foremost, that had been stirred the most.

This is just really awesome!

Up until a few weeks ago, he had been just a normal boy. Some Crilandese kid who came to the U.S.A at the behest of his teacher. Chasing some vague form of heroism in pursuit of an objectively naive dream and finding himself in the school of Rainee Althaiez.

Now, only three weeks later, and he had run away from several white creepy ghost things, been held hostage by an armoured knight, and was about to shoot a mech with an RPG.

His eyes were red and brimming with tears. The thought of his unworthiness had left a profound impact on his emotional state. Unlike Valefar, Jaiga, Ceylica or Tommy, Renra didn’t have any special powers. All he could do was cook and maybe be a little bit brave. And yet, in spite of that, he had been gifted with such an awesome opportunity.

For seemingly no reason, he had been left with the others, climbed a dungeon with them, and made friends with some really nice and awesome people.

Renra smiled broadly. Maybe it was too soon, and maybe they didn’t reciprocate his affection.

They had only spent a short while together, after all. Barely a day at best.

Even so, the boy could not help but think of them fondly. No matter their opinion, Renra liked all of them. Finding Valefar, Ceylica, Jaiga and Tommy to be ‘awesome’ and ‘cool’ in their own right.

You can do this.

The boy’s eyes passed over the mech. He’d never fired an RPG before and thus took some time to aim. Thinking of his ‘friends’ once more, Renra readied himself.

And for their sake, resolved to be strong and tightened his trigger finger.

You’re going to achieve your dream Renra. He thought. “YOU CAN DO THIS!”

Having seen no other choice but to aim and pull on the red trigger when a certain mech came into sight, he did.


Barely a fraction of a second, and the missile struck the mech.


Renra stumbled five paces back. He felt no recoil from the weapon and, as such, had moved from his imagination alone.

Is it over?!

To his way of thinking, the battle was finished. What remained of the mech was but bits of metal, left here and there, littering the floor, and a large cloud of smoke.

It did not take Renra long for his assumption to be confirmed. Soon, the wraiths all but dissipated, too. The students were freed. And Azama?

Well, Azama was alive. Somehow still intact. Gliding down to the ground with an umbrella and a smile on his face.

Shouting something along the lines of "That was Azamazing!"

Once he learned that everything was fine, Renra dropped the RPG.

Applause and cheers, and succeeded soon after. The whole audience around the arena was clapping. The effect of the battle upon them could not be understated. They were deeply moved. And having heard everything enhanced through speakers, dialogue and all, had felt a deep connection with what they had bore witness to.

Renra scratched the back of his head. Though unused to such cheers, he tried all the same and for a closing finale of sorts, did an awkward little bow.

Thank you, everyone. He thought. This really was awesome.

Steward McOy
Patreon iconPatreon iconMyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon