Granberia slashed twice.
Erubetie blocked both with crystalline forearms.
The dragon growled and drew back. Too late! An arm turned tendril extended. It caught her by the breastplate. Without changing expression, Erubetie spun. Once. Twice. She let go. Granberia tumbled against the arena floor, flipped over, and clawed to a halt.
Not a moment's rest. Erubetie drew herself up before slamming the ground with open hands. Her fingers stretched and shot forward. They thickened, buckled, and swelled into a wall of sharpened tentacles.
One breath, in and out. Granberia became a streak of color as she darted forward. Ares sang. One slash, then three, then twenty. Every time a limb was cut, three more grew from its sides. Chunks of hacked apart slime scattered throughout the arena. Too much. The chunks were moving— They're not dead?
The tentacles melted, and the cut pieces exploded. A tsunami of ravenous slime crashed into her from all sides. She could feel it. God, she could actually feel it! It tore at her, desperate to pry off her scales and devour her alive.
Granberia loved it. Her heart in her throat, the roar of blood in her ears, and the feeling of having her back to the wall... Yes, these are the moments that make life worth living!
Her hair began to rise. She opened her mouth and roared. Slime immediately dove in, but it didn't matter. A raging inferno swirled within her. It exploded outward. The slime was rejected by a pillar of fire.
Erubetie remained impassive as she observed the spinning tornado die down. Granberia stood in a crater of melted rock and scorched earth. Her hair had risen, with white roots and flickering red tips.
She had entered Purgatory Flame.
The dragon abandoned Ares. It clattered onto the ground and dissipated in a flash of embers. She brandished her fists. She dashed forward. A wild grin spread across her face. Granberia crossed the dozens of meters. This was it. The spark that she chased after for so long was finally coming to a—
Erubetie sighed. "I'm done."
Granberia halted, nearly falling over. The joy of battle died like a candle under a swift breeze. The draft she dragged behind her buffeted the two.
Pale sunlight peeked from behind the clouds. The arena, a flat expansive area of pristine marble white, was battered beyond recognition. The columns and stairs that surrounded them were empty, save for a wide-eyed imp.
"I'm sorry, that was a little quiet. You're what?" Granberia said, her hair returning to normal.
"Done. It's over." Erubetie hunched over to make eye contact. "You win."
It was like the slime slapped her across the face. No, she would've preferred that! "You can't be serious..! I haven't finished yet!" Granberia's shoulders tensed as she jammed a thumb at herself. "Just a little more, please! Two more minutes! One more minute!"
Erubetie's eyes narrowed slightly. Then, she turned around and began to leave.
The dragon stood, stunned. Bits of gooey blue slithered past her, rejoining with their mother. Granberia reached out with a hand, hoping, wanting, needing. At last, her voice returned. "Can you at least tell me why?"
The Queen paused. She looked back over her shoulder, red eyes glinting but unreadable.
"Isn't it obvious? You're the only one getting anything out of this."
And with those harsh sentences whispered like a soothing lullaby, Erubetie's frame blurred. She disappeared.
Granberia stood alone. A bubbling, bitter feeling like bile stirred within her. It wasn't fair. How dare she? Flaunting all that power and not letting her taste it. Monsters like that should… should…
She sat down and took a deep breath. No, that kind of thinking won't get her anywhere. Erubetie agreed at first, but changed her mind. It would be wrong to pursue her.
Besides, I have other options. A certain fox came to mind. Now smiling, Granberia flicked her tail, and she vanished.
The world stopped spinning. Granberia found herself on the middle of a winding stone staircase. There were no windows, but a blue glow emitted from around the bend further down.
Dusty, she thought. Was she in one of the abandoned parts of the castle? Why would Tamamo even be here?
Voices. Voices from below. Granberia walked to the bottom, but a sound made her freeze up before she could turn the corner.
A moan. From a voice that wasn't Tamamo's.
The dragon flattened her back to the wall and strained her senses. She felt Tamamo's weighty presence, and that of… the Monster Lord?
"Yes, yes, very good. Now, stick 'em in and spread the skin… Hey, you're good with your fingers, aren't you?" The kitsune had a softness to her normally sly voice that sent a shiver through Granberia.
Alice made another noise of vague discomfort. "D-do we have to be so close?"
"Of course, of course! It's only natural." Tamamo sighed contently. "Now, reach deep inside—"
This was her limit. Granberia slowly peeked around the corner.
The two were in an empty kitchen, illuminated solely by hovering blue flames. Pots, pans, and ingredients were laid out across the countertops. Alice had her hands buried in some small and dead mammal. Tamamo was perched on her tails, embracing and nuzzling the Monster Lord.
"—and pull out the intestines."
Alice did as she was told. "Can't we eat these?"
"Unless you like rabbit feces, no." Tamamo buried her face into the crook of Alice's neck and cupped her chin. She began to hum softly.
"A-a-ah! Okay, why are you touching me!?" Alice yelled, nearly letting go of the handful of organs.
"Oh, come on! We never spend personal time with each other anymore..." The fox moved from neck to ear. "So when I heard you wanted to learn how to cook, who could blame me for getting excited?"
With a reluctant mumble, Alice yielded. "F-fine… But don't you dare tell anyone about this."
"I swear it on all nine of my beautiful, beautiful tails."
"Oh, yeah, swear it on the things you can regenerate in a heartbeat, you damn fox!"
"Then I'll swear it on Nanabi. Isn't that better?"
Granberia had seen enough. She retreated back around the corner before cupping her face.
Of course. That's what they were doing. What else? Nothing, that's what.
Shame burning her cheeks, she flicked her tail and disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Soft. Granberia was on a large canopy bed, with red velvet covers and flowering vines serving as drapes. The room's curtains were drawn, but the dragon could see clearly. A desk covered in papers with writing, an easel with a half-finished painting, and an assortment of books on a shelf.
Not very succubus-like.
"Hello? Is someone there?" came a voice.
Granberia glanced at the door besides the bed. It cracked open, releasing a creeping cloud of steam. A red eye glared out from the darkness.
It relaxed upon seeing Granberia. "Berry? I'm sorry, give me a moment."
The door closed. Some shuffling sounds accompanied with splashing water. A flap of wings. Something wooden fell over, and Alma hissed. The door opened.
She stood naked and dripping, hugging a white towel to her torso. She tip-toed into the room and gave Granberia an apologetic little smile before saying, "So, why the unexpected surprise? Did you come for some tea and a chat?"
"N-no," the dragon stammered back. She felt her heart flutter when Alma's face fell. "W-well, it's for something similar."
Damn it, why was she like this around her? What's even different? Was it the skin? Her body? No, it couldn't be. Granberia never felt this away around Master, who didn't even wear clothes. Granberia never felt this way around anybody.
Focus. You're getting off topic. She took a deep breath. Remember what you live for.
The thrill, those ever greater heights. The spark reignited. Granberia steadied.
"I want to fight you."
Alma coolly regarded her. The succubus took a couple steps forward and slid onto the bed, their shoulders almost touching. Then, she sighed. "You know, I just finished taking a bath."
Granberia fought the urge to cry out in anguish. It must've showed on her face, for Alma laughed.
"It's fine, really! I'm not bothered," Alma said, expression full of mirth. Without moving her wings, she gently hovered off the bed and offered a hand. "I'll accept your rematch."
Granberia hesitated, reached out, and then hesitated again. "Shouldn't you change?"
"I'll do it on the way."
A brief pause. The dragon did a tiny nod before grasping Alma's hand.
And the world spun away.
Author's Note: Let me explain myself. Yes, this isn't the request I said I would do, and I'm sorry about that. I just don't feel good doing request, like a switch flips in my concave head that makes me flail around while hyperventilating. This isn't to say that I'll never do requests ever, but I will be more cautious when deciding to write them.
And yes, this story does seem like it should be in Heavenly Knight of Fire instead of here. However, I wrote the characters a bit differently this time, so I thought it should be separated.