Escalation (VII)

The sound of displaced air was like thunder to Shirou's ears, as he ducked under Rider's leg. That would have taken out his head had it landed. Whether the Servant would have stopped before hitting if he hadn't been able to dodge wasn't entirely certain.

The Gorgon's idea of sparring was making him fight for his life, or at the very least making him believe it. There was no comparison between her present self and the way she was when they first fought. Back then, it was like fighting a speeding truck. Now it was like trying to survive in a hurricane.

Which Shirou managed, somehow.

Granted, it could not be called fighting as that would have involved some degree of striking back. Right then, all that Shirou could do was dodge. Deflecting wasn't even on the table. Even with his Reinforced body, he couldn't take a direct hit.

He was at the limit of his physical ability.

So, why was he still standing at all? As a Servant, Rider's physique was absolutely superior to any human's. The difference was in the way they fought. To be completely honest, Rider had no technique worth mentioning.

She fought like a beast would, with great waste of movement, whereas Shirou moved as little as possible, preserving energy and shaving off every fraction of second that he could, by moving before her blows even started.

Rider was full of tells. She did not try to mask her next move at all.

That wasn't her fault. Not truly. She just wasn't used to fighting with someone. Originally a goddess, she was an apex being even in life. Almost everything was beneath her, power-wise. She never needed to develop the skills necessary to square off against someone her level or higher.

Her monstrous strength was more than sufficient to kill with ease all those who invaded her island, and where that failed her Eyes of Cybele would do the rest.

But absolute power could be a weakness in and of itself. Now that she was a Servant in a Grail War, there were others being equally as powerful but also showing skills developed during a lifetime. In this, Medusa was clearly disadvantaged.

That's why a human like Emiya Shirou could barely hold his ground.

Of course, there were other factors to keep in consideration, such as that she did not tire as a human would.

Sweat was already rolling copiously down Shirou's body in an attempt to lower the heat generated from the exertion and the judicious application of Magecraft. Although he still held his breathing in check, every mouthful of air burned in his lungs.

When fighting against someone so much more powerful, the most logical course of action was going in for the kill as soon as possible, but that would have defied the point of this exercise, which was pushing his limits as much as he could.

And boy, were his limits being pushed.

Eventually, as the fight drew on, he ended up making a mistake and a blink of an eye later he was kissing the floor, while his joints went through a painful stretching session.

"... yeld," he grunted out, tapping the ground with his free arm.

Rider his joints a little bit more, almost as if to warn him that surrendering didn't necessarily mean an end to the suffering. Then she finally let him go.

With one last push, he rolled himself onto his back to that he could breathe more easily.

His heart was ramming in his chest, trying to pump oxygen everywhere at once. His head was spinning and his body felt like someone had set it on fire and then tap-danced on it.

Rider's shadow covered him. The Servant of the Mount looked at him from the full extent of her impressive height. At least she had put on shorts for this sparring match, otherwise, he'd be having a good look at her panties from that angle.

Not that the impressive length of her legs was something one could stare at and keep their cool. At least, his face was already quite red from the exertion, otherwise, he would have given away his thoughts.

Thrice damned teenage hormones.

"Say, why are you trying so hard?" she asked.

With the light behind her back, he couldn't see what kind of face she was making. Still, regardless of the purpose behind her question, there was still only one answer he had to give.


"Because I want to help people."

Rider had been expecting that answer. After all, he never made a secret of his motives. Yet, she felt like she was hearing for the first time. No, it was simply that for the first time she really believed him.

It wasn't that she didn't think selfless motives were possible. She just never thought she'd seen them pursued to such an extent.

Perhaps Emiya Shirou didn't think that his current ability was enough for the scope of the battle he was setting himself up for, and in all likelihood, he was right about that. Barring extenuating circumstances, in a struggle between Servants, even the strongest of humans would be a bottom feeder if even that much

However, it wasn't his skills that Rider was thinking about.

For thirty long minutes, she had come at him, holding back just enough that she could stop before any of her strikes connected if they actually went through.

For a human, keeping up with a Servant even for thirty seconds was an impressive enough feat. The amount of ability it required was nothing short of astonishing. Sure enough, it was possible to exchange Mana for physical endurance, but that wasn't the point. It wasn't a matter of physical resilience, but a mental one.

A sustained battle would chip away at a person's focus much faster than it would do their physique. An exchange against a Servant should have drained him in a few minutes at best, Instead, it took her half an hour of relentless barrage before he made a mistake that allowed her to put him down.

His mental fortitude had already far surpassed what ordinary humans could bring to bear. It was something she'd expect from another Heroic Spirit or, at the very least, a Heroic Spirit Candidate.

Had he been born in a different era, there was no doubt he'd be chosen as one. Even if the present-day humans were inherently weaker than their ancestors, Emiya Shirou's mental strength would have been sufficient to make a small legend for himself.

Of this, Rider didn't have the slightest doubt.

Since when, exactly, had she come to think so highly of him? It wasn't too long ago that she had him pinned by the neck, threatening to teach him just how much of a monster she could be.

There wasn't any specific point in time, she realized. She only became aware of it when he walked alone into the Einzbern territory, risking his life to reach out for a sister that wanted him dead.

They were nothing alike character-wise, but it still reminded her of Stheno and Euryale. They too had made a similar decision. They too would not leave their sister alone and went facing certain death because of it.

It was then that she realized she couldn't bring herself to hate this man. Even though she would never agree with his overly optimistic views, she had grown a little fond of him.

Perhaps she was a bit of an idiot herself.

"What?" he asked after the silence following his answer turned awkward.

"Pfft. Ha ha ha."

The laughter bubbled out of her chest before she could restrain it. His red face, scrunched up in an attempt to figure out what she was thinking, was almost comical. She immediately repressed it, but it had already escaped her lips.

"Apologies. I didn't mean to laugh at you," she said, returning to her usual aloof self.

"... you have a cute laugh," he blurted out.

The wooden floor next to his head cracked as Rider slammed her foot down on it.

"If you can waste breath saying foolish things, then perhaps we should spar a some more," she threatened.

"Hold up! Sorry! I can't even stand on my feet right now," he said.

"I'm sure you'll find the strength somewhere," she said.

"Wait! Wait! Waaaiiit!"

Sounds of battle and unmanly shrieks could be heard from outside the dojo for several minutes until merciful silence finally fell again. Moments later Rider came storming out, leaving Emiya Shirou slumped upside down against a wall, sore and disoriented.

There was no one to see the faint red hue spreading across her cheeks, not the tiny smile that played about her lips. Even the person herself was not aware of it all. All she could ruminate about was what a foolish Master she ended up stuck with.

A Master that thought there was something cute about a monster like her.


Hours later, the evening had fallen, and the inside of Shirou's room was dimly lit, giving off an air of peacefulness. An atmosphere offset by the sounds he was making

"Oww!" he moaned, while Medea spread an ointment all over his back.

"It seems like you have pushed her buttons a bit too much this time," said the Witch of Betrayal.

"I just said she had a cute laugh" he explained. "I didn't think she'd take it that badly. Oww. Take it easy."

"Sorry, my hand slipped," she said, sounding none too apologetic.

"Wait, are you jealous?"

"Well, you did just spend half an hour getting sweaty with her, and it ended with you complimenting her. Am I supposed to say nothing?"

"Getting sweaty? You mean getting my ass beat. Besides, just yesterday you were trying to push me into her arms or something, and today you harass me over an offhand comment? Shouldn't you make up your mind already? Oww! Come on!"

"Hmmph!" Medea huffed, puffing her cheeks like a child.

Shirou rolled his eyes, but he knew what needed to be done. Despite being seated with his back turned to her, he whirled around and grabbed her wrists before she could react.

"Wah!" she cried out in surprise.

He pulled her into his arms and laid on his back so that she was resting on his bare chest.

"All better, already?" she asked.

"Thanks to you. Your touch would heal every wound," he whispered in her ear.

"Oh, so you do know you should compliment me more often," she said.

"Yes, yes. Sorry, I was being inconsiderate," he said to soothe her ego.

"As long as you understand," she conceded, somewhat mollified. "Still, this speed of recovery is impressive. Is Avalon working better?"

"Not more than usual. At least not in any way I can tell."

"So it's your natural recovering ability that's fast. Well, I suppose youth has its perks."

"You would know," he said.

"Oh! That was an eight out of ten, Shirou, but be careful when you address a maiden's age," Medea grinned into his chest. "That being said, I know I'm already an old woman."

"Maybe," he said, kissing the top of her head. "But some things only get better with age."

"Hmm. Do keep talking. … Shirou?"

He had looked away, toward the door out of the room.

"Something's wrong," he said, pulling both of them back up.

"I don't feel anything. The Boundary Fields have not been breached. Assassin?"

"No. Not that. I… ."

Medea stood back on her feet, her robes appearing in place of her ordinary clothes.

"What do you feel?" she asked.

"I'm not sure," he said. "The hair on the back of my head is standing up. Warn Tohsaka. Tell her to come over."

"On a hunch? She's not going to take it well."

"Just do it," he said in a way that brooked no argument. Normally that bit of forcefulness would turn her on. Now it worried her. "Tell her to be ready for anything."

"Right away," Medea agreed.

Shirou wasn't an alarmist, nor was he easily spooked. If something got him worked up then it was worth their full attention. But what could possibly get him to look so worried?

Even she had a bad feeling in her chest now.


Two hours later, Shirou sat on the porch of his house, already wearing Twisted Embrace. Saber and Rin had also joined them.

"It's already been two hours Emiya. Nothing has happened. Are you sure you simply ate something that didn't agree with you?"

He shook his head and a drop of sweat fell from his forehead. He looked extremely pale, which only lend credibility to Tohsaka's hypothesis of a physical ailment.

However, the bad feeling from before had only gotten worse.

"What is that you feel, exactly?" asked Saber. "Describe it to us."

"I… don't know how… It's like… It's like ten years ago when Fuyuki burned. It's the same feeling I had back then."

"Why is that we don't feel anything?" asked Rider. "If something of that magnitude were to happen, shouldn't Servants pick up on it earlier than anyone else."

"Is there something wrong with the Grail, Caster?"

"Not that I can tell, Rin. There is a limit to how much I can prod its function remotely, but as far as I can tell, nothing is amiss. The seventh Servant has yet to be summoned."

"Perhaps we should-"

"Rin!" Saber cried out. "Look!"

All of them turned their head to the sky in the direction Saber was pointing.

In the distance, high above the city, the clouds were swirling menacingly, yet there was no wind worth mentioning. They seemed to converge around a specific area, where lightning started to crackle. Then they were pushed away by a silent explosion, as a black disk formed out of thin air like a hole punched in the sky.

Shirou felt his stomach lurch as he stared at the distant phenomena.

"That is not good," said the teen Magus. "That direction… the memorial park?"

The place where the Grail had manifested during the previous war.

"Let's go. Now!" he said.

They quickly gathered around Medea, whose cloak extended to engulf them, bending space itself and taking them away.

A moment later, they appeared right outside the park. The area was deserted as usual.

"Ugh!" Rin groaned the moment she took a breath of air. "What in the hell?"

"Rin, what wrong?"

"I don't know. I just feel awful. It's like I'm being choked to death."

"Flush Mana through your body. That should make you feel better," suggested Medea.

Rin did as instructed and the crease of her brow softened. "It worked, but not by much. Emiya is this what you have been... Emiya?"

They looked at him. Gone was the pale complexion. Instead, he was clutching his fists and clenching his teeth so tightly that a drop of blood was dripping from the corner of his mouth. His entire body was shaking.

"Not again," he growled, looking at the black hole. "Not again."

As he said those words, a waterfall of black sludge started pouring out of it and into the park beneath.

"Caster! Put up a Boundary Field around the park. Seal this place shut!" he ordered.

"That won't do;" said Rin. "If you put a barrier around here that stuff will just slide on it and land outside."

"She's right," said Caster. "We need to shut that breach.."

"We can just blast it out of the sky! Saber, your Noble Phantasm."

"No!" shouted Shirou. "We are in the middle of the city. If it explodes like ten years ago it's going to be a catastrophe."


Whatever objection might have come from Rin's mouth was cut off by the inhuman shrieks that came from the darkness inside the park.

"Let's go!" said Shirou, immediately running into the park.

"Shirou, wait!" called Medea.

"Caster, do what you have to close that hole," he ordered. "We'll hold back whatever the hell made that sound."

"Fine! Rider, you watch his back!"

"Understood," said the other Servant, who was already chasing after their reckless Master.

"Damn it, Emiya. Be careful. Don't just rush ahead like that," protested Tohsaka, even though she too was already going after him with Saber in tow

However, Shirou was heedless to their warnings.

The sludge pouring out of that black hole looked like a gargantuan hand reaching for it. Having it in front of his eyes, Shirou recalled seeing that same thing through smoke and flames ten years ago.

Up until this day, he thought it was just a product of his traumatized mind or a trick of the light. Now, however, he knew what he had seen back then.

He didn't know whether the burning feeling in his chest was a flashback to that day or more simply rage clawing at his throat.

He was seeing red, not at all unlike that night at the museum in Misaki. There was a pressure in his temples that made him feel absolutely murderous.

He was so furious that he almost didn't see the black figure lunge out for him until it had almost clawed out his eyes. If it wasn't because he had instilled into his body the instinct to react before his brain caught up, he would have had his face carved out.

Instead, Kanshou rose to intercept a black claw and Shirou found himself staring into the hollow eyes of a beast-like thing.

In the darkness, he didn't have the chance to take a good look at it, especially because another claw tried to tear open his stomach.

He intercepted that with Bakuya, and then decided that he was too pissed to stay on the defensive. The creature was physically strong and fast. Definitely above the level of a highly trained human being.

It was nowhere strong enough to contend with the likes of Emiya Shirou.

The Married Blades flashed into the night and the creature was cut into several pieces, which fell to the ground turning back into the mud-like substance that came from the black hole.

"Master, what was that?" asked Rider, as she caught up with him. Saber and Tohsaka too were right behind and had seen the exchange.

"I don't know, but…"


Before them, dozens upon dozens of those creatures appeared. The white hollow of their eyes was the only thing that could be discerned of their anatomy against the dark background of the night.

"...there's no time to find out!"

The swarm descended upon them.


With her cloak looking like the wings of an enormous bird, Caster flew in the night sky of Fuyuki.

Now that she was this close, she understood perfectly well what the swirling hole in front of her eyes actually was.

It was the Mana-discharge system she had created to prevent the Grail from building up enough energy to fully manifest.

However, it wasn't meant to start functioning until at least one Servant was killed. Why was this happening? Where did the energy come from? To her knowledge, no Servant had been killed yet. Even if it did, this wasn't what was supposed to happen.

She had not overlooked anything, she was confident enough in her ability to be absolutely certain of it. Therefore, this couldn't be mere happenstance but rather the result of deliberate action.

The Grail was using her own countermeasures against them. How and why wasn't a mystery, but there was no doubt that such was the cause.

If this had happened to someone else, Medea might have even appreciated the crafty resourcefulness of the Grail, but as this was her being played for a fool she felt greatly insulted.

There are few things more dangerous than a Witch with a wounded pride.

Immediately, she started casting. Mysterious words rolled out of her lips, and around the breach a cube-shaped grid manifested. Each side started filling with complicated magic circles that spun in place, while chain-like beams of light shot into the breach.

"Be careful down there. I can't move from here until this thing is closed," she warned her companions.

If they wanted this thing sealed, they would have to handle themselves down there.


At ground level, a massacre was going on. The two Servants with the help of their Masters were cutting a bloody path through the swarm of monsters.

Against even just one Servant, the black creatures would be little more than paper figurines. Saber's invisible sword cut them down by the dozen with a single swing, with powerful bursts of wind reaching much farther than the steel of her blade.

Rider's chain was less impressive looking but was doing a fine job, all the same, shredding the creatures that came too close in any direction.

Back to back, Shirou and Rin were doing their share with a combination of blades, Chinese Kenpo and Magecraft.

Rin moved like a whip. Every thrust of her palms caused the creature so unlucky to receive it to implode as the strength of her strike traveled through it. If another creature was right behind it, that too would be destroyed, by the shockwave. If not for the presence of the Servants, it would have been an impressive display of martial prowess.

They were in absolutely no danger of being overwhelmed. Even the two Magi alone could probably hold their ground as long as they didn't run out of breath and Mana. Maybe they wouldn't get anywhere, but at the very least they could hold their ground.

These creatures only had numbers on their side.

However, it is to be said that quantity is a quality of its own. No matter how many they slew, there were countless others that would take their place.

There was quite literally no end to them. As long as that hole was open and oozing, they would not stop coming out.

'Caster, what's the situation up there?' Shirou asked through their bond,

'It's a mess. Sealing this rift it's going to take a while. There's too much energy coming through.'

'Where from?'

'I have no idea. There must be something about the Grail even we don't know about. This isn't supposed to happen.'

'No kidding. What should we do?' he asked.

"Keep killing those creatures. I suspect there's a limit to the number it can produce."

'Maybe, but how high is that limit?'

'At this rate...less than a million. Probably.'


'I know," she sighed. 'I'm doing my best up here. I'll send over some helpers too.'


Shirou heard more than see something fall and hit the ground around them. Bones rose from the dirt, assembling into headless skeletons that didn't look quite human, each wielding a rudimentary weapon.

"What now?" asked Tohsaka.

"These are on our side," replied Shirou. "Don't mind them and keep at it."

The Dragontooth soldiers joined the fray. Their strength wasn't great. In fact, they were weaker than even the black creatures. However, the latter seemed to utterly ignore the former, not reacting even when attacked.

They seemed to have eyes only for Servants and humans, and mostly for the former.

"We have an issue," said Saber. "They are spreading out, heading for the city. If they leave the park it's going to be a bloodbath."

"Damn it! Rider! Stop them. Use your Noble Phantasm."

"As you wish, Master," she acknowledged, not even hesitating.

"Emiya, are you su-!" Tohsaka said but was interrupted as Rider slammed the nail at the end of her chain right through the side of her slender neck, making blood from both the entrance and exit wound.

The sudden display of self-harm shocked everybody. Even the swarm paused for a moment, although probably not because of that, as much as the build-up of Mana around Rider.

The blood dripping down her neck and shoulders didn't fall to the ground, but coalesced behind Rider, giving shape to a mystic circle.


"Oh, crap!"


A comet of white light burst forth, taking Rider along with it. In its path, everything was destroyed and the sheer heat of his passage melted the black creatures even some distance away.

It flew parallel to the ground, clearing a path through the swarm all the way to the opposite side of the park. It the dove upward into the sky where it hovered momentarily, just long enough for those she had left behind to understand exactly what they were looking at.

A white-winged horse. A Phantasmal Beast. A creature of great power and terrible beauty from a long-lost age. On its back sat none other than Medusa, a Rider to match the splendid mount in all aspects.

The white horse seemed to only enhance the dark beauty straddling it.

"That's a Rider, all right," said Tohsaka, just before said Servant took its mount and went for a dive into the swarm.

She destroyed the monsters with ease, but just like before, more and more poured out from the lake of mud that had formed where the sludge met the ground.

"It's won't be enough," warned Rider. "There doesn't seem to be an end to them."

Whenever she slowed down the advance of the swarm in one direction, they advanced twice as much in another.

"We need to cover more directions," said Tohsaka. "They are drawn to us if we are close enough. Saber, go East. With her speed Rider should be able to run containment from North to West. Emiya and I will handle the South."

"Rin, are you sure?" asked Saber, all without stopping hacking away at the monsters.

"Go, Saber!" said Shirou. "I won't let anything harm Tohsaka."

"H-hey!" protested Tohsaka. "I can handle myself just fine."

"Understood," nodded Saber. "I'll leave this fair maiden in your care then."

"Oi! Saber!"

But the Servant had already taken off. A good portion of the swarm took after her. However, with her gone, the pressure on the two Magi increased. Still, they were nowhere close to being overwhelmed. Kanshou and Bakuya danced into the night, while Tohsaka's arm struck out like whips. Not a single monster managed to land a hit on them.

Rin's mastery of Chinese Kenpo was nothing short of astonishing. Although Shirou wasn't in any position to admire it, the few glimpses he caught were more than enough. Her ability at barehanded combat was definitely one step higher than his own.

With her covering his back, he didn't need to worry.

He took a wide-area approach to the situation, Tracing multiple copies of the Married Blades, which he flung into the swarm. He had trained long to improve his control of their mutual attraction effect. He was far from having mastered it, but against enemies that lacked any sort of finesse such as these shadows, they were more than enough.

He didn't even need to supercharge them with Mana. Flying like razor-sharp disks, they cut everything in their path and then circled back to one another.


Together, Rin and Emiya moved like a whirlwind, covering each other's blind spots. Even with an alliance going, few were the Magi that could trust one another to this extent and act in a way that multiplied their strength.

Despite facing a seemingly endless horde of monsters, Rin didn't feel the slightest amount of worry about her own safety. Sure, there was no telling how many of these things were, and she was full of questions about their origins, but she wasn't worried about succumbing to them.

In the midst of battle, she couldn't spare much attention to the finer detail of her partner's skills. She only saw him bring out of nowhere set after set of the white and black Chinese daos, which he threw into the swarm without hesitation.

That wasn't the end of it though. Those weapons circled back and returned toward him, mowing down everything in their path. How many of those did he possess? How did their movement work? How much of it was Magecraft and how much skill?

Every time she watched him in action, he seemed to pull out something new. Surely, most of it was combat-oriented, but within that field, he seemed to possess an astounding amount of versatility.

Indeed, Rin was glad that he was an ally and not an enemy. In this weird scenario in which nothing was going as it should have, she was extremely happy to have someone she could rely upon, both in skills and character.

For a Magus such as her, that was nothing short of winning the lottery.

Even though she had no idea what was going on, she felt that with him her foundation was strong enough to deal with anything.

Of course, she would not be telling that to anyone, not even herself.


Up in the sky, Caster was doing everything she could to limit the output of the black hole, stripping it of all the Mana she could safely take out without making it collapse and explode.

It wasn't easy. She had set up this system specifically so that shutting it down would be so complex that by the time it was done all the energy would already be expelled.

That had backfired on her, but at this point in time, there was nothing that could be done about it.

At least, down below they had things well in hand. The advance of the swarm had been contained. The continual use of Rider's Phantasm was draining lots of Mana, but Caster had been stockpiling it for months. This much didn't worry her.

However, she was channeling that Mana through Shirou, which meant that he was feeling the brunt of it. Naturally, even if he felt discomfort or even pain, it didn't seem to affect him in the slightest. With Rin at his back, he was shredding the monsters as if they were reaping wheat.

They would simply have to keep on fighting until all the energy from the black hole had dried out. Without Medea, it would take them until dawn. With her help, at this rate, it would take no more than a couple of hours.

Caster knew it was feasible. And if she knew it…

"Watch out!" she warned the alliance down below. "Something else is happening."

If there was an intelligence capable of reverse engineering what Caster had done to its own advantage, there was just no way it would take this laying down.


The dark beasts threw themselves at Saber with no consideration for their own survival. That sheer disregard made them much more dangerous in great numbers than an equally powerful creature that exercised restraint.

Not that any of it mattered. Against Saber, it was just like throwing a few branches into a woodchipper. They were blown to smithereens. As long as she had Mana to burn, these things would never be a treat to someone of her caliber.

Unless, of course, something else was thrown into the mix.

She moved her head to the side out of instinct and thus barely dodged the long object that burst forth from the mouth of the creature in front of her. No, not from inside the mouth but through its head from behind it.

The creature dissolved back into mud, allowing passage to the figure behind it.

Saber's sword clashed and stopped against the weapon wielded by the new arrival. In that brief moment of stalemate, Saber had the opportunity to take a good look at the new challenger.


It was him. Or at least it looked like him if he had been reduced to a black silhouette without noticeable facial features except for the feal white of his eyes. The same beast-like opening that the other creatures had.

However, that's where the similarities ended. The strength behind him was much greater than those other things. It was enough to stop Saber's sword. His two blackened spears could block her attacks.

And just like that, the game had changed.


Bellerophon flew at full speed, making short work of all the creatures that roamed the ground. Even if they hadn't been so weak, on Bellerophon's back, Rider was beyond untouchable.

So what if there were millions of them? The skies belonged to her and none could reach her.

She swooped down and like every other time thousands of monsters evaporated at her passage.

It was almost too easy. They were less than ants before her, good only for trampling upon. And trample upon them she did, with great enthusiasm

The pulse of her own blood thrummed in her ear. The thrilling feeling of utterly dominating an opponent coursed through her veins, just like those days.

It was exhilarating and it made her feel nauseous.

It was that feeling she became addicted to without noticing until too late. The feeling that accelerated her degradation and turned her into a monster of her own. The feeling that consumed her even when she devoured her own sisters.

It was so ingrained into her, that even her own self-loathing didn't abate the thrill. That was how insidious it was. How deep-rooted. That was the reason why she ran away from her sisters, although that turned out to be ultimately useless. She wasn't worried this would happen here, as her existence in this world would be short-lived, but it pained her all the same.

It's to be noted that losing oneself to introspection is not a good thing on a battlefield, no matter how outmatched is the opponent.

When Bellerophon stopped in order to turn and make another sweep, something careened into its side.

Bellerophon neighed and in the next moment Rider's face was sprayed with red hot blood. She pulled the Phantasmal Beast away but the damage had already been done. One of its white wings was half missing.

The responsible party was none other than the burly giant of a man riding a chariot driven by two mighty bulls.

Both the rider and his mount looked as if they were made of the same substance of the creatures down below. There was no distinguishable feature on his face, save for its white eyes. It was just a shadow.

A shadow much more dangerous than those faced thus far.

Rider cursed herself for her absent-mindedness. She should have known better than to assume everything would proceed smoothly on a battlefield.

It was painfully obvious now, that nothing was going to be as simple as they thought it would.


AN: Here's another chapter. Want more? Join my discord and read up to Chapter 71. Send a PM to get an invite