The children continue fighting, believing their sacrifices can change the world. Along with that purity, a malicious evil continues manipulating those who carry no evil.

Chapter 11

He had spent three years having to carefully walk around the orphanage when by himself. Not that being together with an adult would stop her from being threatening, but adults would tell her to stop acting like a rabid dog and send her away. After some time, it stopped being scary or painful, becoming just a constant bother. 'Don't you have anything better to do?' he'd ask the girl which started growling upon seeing him.

After those three years, when he was nine and she was eleven, there came a day where she simply sat down by his side. He was lying down on the orphanage's rooftop, the most relaxing place for him. Maybe because he was short for a boy his age, he quite liked standing on high places. Without saying anything, a young girl with short brown hair sat by his side. Quietly, peacefully, but still keeping her distance.

'Aren't you gonna scream and beat me up?' he asked, not quite complaining, but surprised with the sudden development. 'I'm grown up now, I can control myself. As long as you don't come close,' she answered. He didn't see anything different between her current self and how she looked like on the most recent attack incident, but if she's saying she has matured, he won't comment on it.

'That scar of yours...' she started, pointing to his eye, 'you can't hide it, can you?' He poked it. He was told the scar would vanish in a few years, but no matter how many times he felt it up or looked at it on the mirror, it always seemed to be the same. 'If I wear an eyepatch, maybe. But that'd hide my eye as well,' he didn't get the point of the question, but that was his answer.

The girl turned around and lifted the back of her shirt. She also had scars, in many sizes and directions, an abstract painting of scars. 'I also have some. But I can hide mine. Sorry for making one you can't hide,' she apologized, letting go of her shirt and turning to him again. 'It's no problem. One of the ladies said this sort of scar is cool, so I shouldn't feel ugly,' he nodded, quoting the woman.

The girl spent a few seconds without saying anything. After that brief silence, she lets out an upset sigh 'nobody ever said my scars are cool. They always use words like nasty or hideous...' she lowered her gaze, very sad. 'I think... that's because of who gave the scar. In my case, I have a cool scar because you're cool, but whoever gave you yours... isn't cool, they're nasty,' his logic doesn't make any sense, he only wanted to cheer her up. And her face did turn bright, she raised her head and asked him 'really?!'

'Do you really think I'm cool? After all I... after hurting you so much?' she lowered her head again. 'While doing it for three years was pretty persistent of you, I had my fault in it. The ladies said so, at least. I must always be careful around girls and especially when I don't know them well, they said,' again, he quotes. 'But you're strong and can fight for yourself even without taking classes. That's cool.'

The girl wasn't very amused by his answer. 'Boys really find fighting cool, don't you? I don't like it much,' she said. 'Hard to believe,' he answered. 'I don't do it because I like it!' she throws a tantrum. After that exchange, they spent ten minutes without talking. The sun shone down on them, and that made the girl feel her tension decrease. 'Hey. Can you... tell me about your family?' she wanted courage to ask that, courage she felt was given by the sun.

While Clay never met her real parents and was abused by her surrogate ones, Lui had met his. For four years, they lived together. He can't remember how it was on the the first three, but he hasn't forgotten his fourth year. One day, they agreed to take him for a ride around town. On their first stop, his parents got him off the car and told him to wait there, they were gonna park the car and come for him right away.

However, they didn't return. And he stayed there. If he was told to stay, he should stay. While they were the sort of people who would abandon a four-year-old child, they at least were decent enough to actually leave him in front of the orphanage. It was a matter of hours until someone noticed the child standing alone by the entrance, tears flowing down his face, but resisting to actually cry. Because he believed they'd come back, he didn't want to be found screaming, because that would make them upset and their day out would ruined. The flowing of tears couldn't be helped, but he did what he could about crying and breaking down.

That is all he had to say about his parents. Three years of lost memories, a single memory of his fourth year, which was of the day he was abandoned. 'How about you?' he returned the question when he was done. She wasn't sure if she should count the surrogate ones as parents, but she would have nothing to say if she didn't.

She started by telling him her actual parents never appeared, she's sure she has never seen them. As far as she remembers, she had always lived with a couple of old scary people, a man and a woman. Perhaps they were related to her actual parents, perhaps they were friends, she has no idea where they came from. She calls them old, but from the perspective of an eleven-year-old, anyone wrinkled is already old, the couple was on their forties. The man was bald, so he certainly seemed to be older, but the woman just happened to be more advanced than her.

They were paid to take care of her, to afford taking care of her, but they didn't use even ten percent of that money on her. If she felt hungry, if she complained, if she said she wanted something, they'd just refuse to give her anything until they felt she should get it. If she insisted on wanting something, were it a toy or food, then they'd start physically punishing her, to teach her to behave. Hitting her with belts, applying a heated clothes iron against her skin, they were ruthless monsters. After a while, her sadistic mother bought, very probably with the very money she was paid to take care of Clay, a whip. Not a whip like the ones treasure hunters use, a whip more akin to those used on horses, but with a powerful lash.

It was only when the whipping sessions started that the neighborhood discovered what transpired on that house. The parents were arrested, the girl was taken away, the case was over. At least as far as justice goes, that is. The girl's psychological stability would take a few more years to start recovering.

Both were abandoned, both have scars, it's a weird way to bond, but that was the situation which allowed them to become friends. From time to time, Clay herself would touch Lui. With the tip of her fingers only, while standing an arm's reach away from him, but it was a development nobody quite thought would ever come. He never attempted to touch her, but those around them, caretakers and fellow children alike, wondered how she would react if ever touched by him. But after his first mistake, he never repeated such an attempt. For him, the only way to get close and 'touch' the girl which grew to become his best friend, was by touching his scar. It was made by her, so, by touching it, he's indirectly in contact with her. Yet another failed logic, but that made enough sense for him.

“Cool, isn't he?” the girl hits her chest, exhibiting her new spirit with pride. She only thinks she got stronger, like what happened to Lui on their previous battle, she doesn't realize it means the evolution she herself has been through.

“Yeah,” a samurai white dragon, he can't find anything to complain about, it is very cool-looking. Victory doesn't feel that comfortable being treated like a prized possession rather than living being, but he's more level-headed than losing his cool over that. “Does it dual wield? Or two swords just for the sake of it?”

“Hey, don't ask for information on your enemy,” she laughs.

Their battlefield is colosseum, the sky is dark, but streams of light traverse it one after the other: a meteor shower. On one end of the arena, Clay in front of V, talking to Lui almost as if they're not actually opponents. On the other end, stands Lui and, far behind him, not even inside the ring, Stromhyde. His arms crossed, his six eyes attentively watching the movements happening on top of the ring.

“Hey, isn't your guy there gonna fight? I'd like to go for a showdown with it, but if you're the type to summon lots of spirits instead of going with your own from the get go...”

“No, he only... He's only there to make sure we'll fight by the rules.”

“So go ahead and summon, I want to beat you fair and square.”

“I... also won't summon. A spirit, at least. I've decided... since our last battle, I've decided I'll solve everything myself, I won't depend on others,” 'I'll show you how high I can climb with my own hands alone, are you hearing, Stromhyde?' He faces her, but the eyes of his heart stare at his god. Strom nods, acknowledging his resolve.

“The thing you're asking for is very important to my world... But as the balance is already shaken, if only for a while, there shall be no problem,” Stromhyde talks out loud. 'Thanks,' says Lui, raising his hand high, reaching out for the stars on the sky.

Among the countless stars which rain down on that sky, a single one follows a different path. While certainly all of them draw an arc towards the horizon, a blue star drops on a straight line course, ignoring any and every law of physics. It lands on his left hand and explodes into a wave of energy.

The breeze raises a cloud of dust, but by covering her eyes, Clay can still see some of what goes on after the landing of the star. It shapes itself into a sword. A very, very large sword, almost as long as Victory is tall. Yet, Lui holds that sword with a single arm. Upon taking hold of it, a golden aura slowly flows from the sword, covering the boys entire body.

“What is that?” She asks Victory. Not only a boy his size carrying a sword of that size is impossible, that golden aura is unknown to her.

“I... don't know how to explain it, but... that boy has been acknowledged as an ultimate,” she has heard of them, but never actually seen one.

“I don't follow?!”

“That sword... Mercury Blade is a sword which can only be wielded by ultimates. Braves have a consciousness of their own, so they can choose who is worth of wielding them or not and... that's one of the blades which only allows ultimates,” 'not only that, it is a legendary star sword. For a human to wield it... is it because he works with the gods?' as a warrior, V obviously holds an special interest on swords, and it makes his blood boil to see an opponent which can wield a blade he's only read of on myth.

Eager, unable to wait any more, V steps forward, drawing both of his blades. First he'll test how is the boy's swordsmanship. He swings both of his swords down, a V-shaped cleave directed at the boy's head. The movement he makes is one his eyes cannot believe. He wields that sword which is over ten times his size like part of his body, almost as if it has no actual weight. He parries the blades and slashes V's abdomen with a circular swing.

Moving the sword with ease isn't what he found to be unbelievable, it's the parry followed by the slash. To even say it was 'followed' might be inadequate, as they happened consecutively. Almost as if time had stopped for him to spin and slash him, or perhaps as if the 'frames' between his blocking and spinning could not be caught by V's eyes, time moved differently for a moment. In a matter of seconds, he changed from a defending to having already hit an attack.

Victory knows of a skill... or perhaps a war tactic, developed on some blue countries, an strategy devised to counter the hydras' multiple heads. They refer to it by the simple name of 'Assault,' in which they deal a flurry of simultaneous attacks. That clearly doesn't sound very amazing, any warrior can do such a thing, but the way Blue does it that is simply abnormal. Indeed, an average warrior can deal two strikes in a row, a combo of two hits. But there's a time gap, even if they're at peak form, they'll need at least one second to pull back their blades, spears, fists or whatever, so they can attack once more. Blue's 'Assault' has both strikes hit at the same second, each individual blow is already two hits. At different places of one target, at two different targets, it's almost as if spacetime itself kneels before them. They need a solid footing and concentration to pull it, but the most fearsome part of it is that Assault isn't a skill which only a few elite can master, many warriors of blue possess it. Which means one can be surrounded by warriors which can strike continuously and multiple times at the same time, as long as they have somewhere to step on.

And that isn't the end of it. Because what this boy did to him isn't striking twice at the same time. He blocked and striked at the same time, another level of skill entirely. 'Is it because he's an ultimate? Or is it because of the sword?' He wonders, but admits the answer doesn't matter. His battle isn't of getting around the enemies particularities and making them powerless, he'll take his challenge head-on, to show not even an opponent using ultimate skills can defeat him.

Victory lets Lui swing Mercury again. He blocks the first swing with his swords, the second one hits his shoulder pad. The destructive power of his swings also isn't a joke, with this, the plate on his abdomen and the pad on his shoulder have pretty much been destroyed. If he strikes again on those exact points, he'll certainly pierce through flesh. Lui follows with an overhead slash, which would hit V's face if it hit. His first attack isn't hard to defend, it's only the Assault that gives Victory a hard time.

He easily blocks the overhead slash, crossing both swords in front of himself to hold Lui's blade between them, but because of that position he leaves himself in, the assault comes in form of a thrust aimed at the chest. 'Shoulder, abdomen, chest, it's almost as if he's aiming to break my entire armor...'

Victory keeps his defensive stance, and Lui believes his flurry is cornering the dragon. This time he aims for V's knees, slashing it horizontally. As expected, the dragon blocks it. For the second blow, he spins backwards, getting momentum to slash the opposite knee. But he's blocked again. All those hits he allowed were for the sake of learning how to counter Lui's assault.

However, that is only possible to him for two reason, the first being because he is a dual-wielding master. If he only had one blade, he'd never manage to block two attacks happening at the same time. The rest is a gamble of instinct. He's betting on where Lui will aim his second attack, nothing more than that.

A momentary freeze, Lui is surprised to see his attack be blocked, he thought that couldn't be done. While he wavers, V takes the chance and swings down one of his swords. Lui had slashed the left knee, meaning that his right side is open, and Victory will forgive no openings. By distorting spacetime, Lui moves his sword to the right in an instant, blocking Victory's sword. But he figured that much would happen, so, even if a weaker swing due to not gathering any impulse on it previously, he uses the sword on his left hand, the one that had just blocked Lui's assault.

'Ah, so there's a cooldown period between each use? his attack is successful, Lui tried to move without any distortion, but didn't make it in time. If a human were attacked by a spirit like this, it would only expected that, in a best case scenario, his arm would no longer be attached to his body. On the worst case, he'd have been cut in half. But as on this moment he isn't being treated as a human, the blade only lightly cuts through his arm, right below his shoulder.

The golden aura focused on the point he was about to get hit, becoming a multi-layered shield covering his body. That movement made it become weaker on the rest of his body, which could be a dangerous move on a different situation. Real ultimates have no need for this sort of skill, their barrier is multi-layered naturally, but for a fake ultimate like him, this sort of risky move is necessary.

Lui thrusts forward twice, Victory blocks both moves and manages to land another hit, cutting all the way from Lui's chest to his navel. His shirt is ruined, but the actual wound isn't that deep, it doesn't hurt much and doesn't gush out much blood. But within his mind, he's worried. His attacks aren't working anymore, somehow the dragon has seen through him. He wouldn't know it's mostly luck which is allowing that to happen, to him, it's the difference in power and experience.

But even luck has a limit. What allows V to make this 'miracle' happen, is the second reason for his blocking being possible and related to his namesake. Almost as if favored by the whims of fate, whatever decision is made by him turns out to be a correct one. Just as Lui is distorting spacetime, Victory distorts causality itself. He is the victor because the world doesn't allow him to lose. Does that mean his skill is irrelevant? Not quite, as such power wouldn't fall on the hands of a weakling or useless individual. His unmatched desire to win, how much he struggled so he would never lose again... That is what allowed him such a blessing.

While they battle, during the dance of offense and defense, memories started returning to Lui. Not memories in general, one specific memory. Memories of the day all of this began to him. After getting his eye slashed and his face smashed, he was knocked out. But while unconscious on the real world, he had awakened on the spirit world.

He walked through the city of giants, watching them live their lives, build their artificial soldiers, craft blades, build castles, colosseums and many other buildings. While he could see all of them, he couldn't be seen by anyone. He didn't know how much time had passed since he entered that world, but he felt all he had seen was still just the tip of the iceberg. Before being able to explore any more of that wondrous world, his left eye started burning. He felt like an animal who is being branded by iron, he screamed in pain while holding onto his eye.

'Do you want to live here? Or return to your world?' A voice asked. While half his face burned in pain, the boy couldn't even turn around to see who talked to him, he could only see a gigantic shadow on the ground. 'How does it stop hurting?' his answer would depend on what would make the pain stop. 'If you live here, it will hurt much more... But if you return, you'll lose something.'

'I already have nothing, it's no problem,' the child answered. And after that, he returned to the real world, waking up within an infirmary. He forgot about that conversation, but he remembered the world of blue giants. He also forgot his parents' faces, but it would take a few years for him to realize he forgot that. After that, he'd come to see that dream world many more times, and every time he saw it, it'd end the same way. 'Do you want to live here? Or return to your world, at the cost of your memories?'

His choice never changed. If not for his eye, he'd have certainly picked to live there and abandon his humanity. 'So that was it... All this time, that's what it was?' he smiles. He doesn't remember any of his lost memories, but he knows why he lost so many of them. In order to continue living among humans, it's the choice he has been making for so long.

“Strom... Why did you show me this now of all times?” His fighting spirit doesn't decrease by a drop, but he stops his constant attacking. He needs to ask that, otherwise he'll lose his focus, he knows.

“The one who broke the seal was yourself, I did nothing.”

“I see... Does that mean I've climbed a lot?”

“I'd say... you might be at the top of the tower.”

“Not enough,” he grips his blade with all his strength, which now is equal to that of an ultimate.

“Hm?” Stromhyde doesn't believe what he just heard.

“The top of this tower isn't enough. I'll continue going higher and higher,” the boy looks at the golden aura flowing around his body. It has no warmth, it has no life, but it protects him. He wonders what could be the meaning behind him receiving that aura, what should be done with that. If he has become an ultimate, he must live like an ultimate. “Strom! I'll offer you my everything!”

“I accept your resolve!” The god lets out a loud roar, reality itself shakes along with his voice.

The golden aura around Lui intensifies in radiance and intensity, sparkling like an actual star. 'Sorry for keeping you waiting,' he's surprised Victory stood still until his conversation ended, but that's what anyone should expect of a warrior of that grade. He isn't desperate for a victory, he wants to win a battle that was fought fairly.

“That radiance... is not an Ultimate Trigger,” Victory readies himself. He doesn't know what could be coming, but he knows it's an ultimate's power. If it's not a trigger, then the danger increases, the slightest slip up can cost him his life, such is any battle against the unknown.

“A life tied to both the world of spirits and the world of humans... If I burn a life with that much worth, just what miracle might occur?!” Lui screams, all of his overflowing aura converging on the edge of his sword.

Lui swings his sword once. An overhead slash, just like he tried before. Overhead, for someone of Lui's height against a dragon like V, means the blade heads straight for his face. As the blade is covered in golden aura, V decides he has no choice but to block with both swords, he'll do something about the following blow when it comes.

Both of his blades shatter. The fragments become even smaller fragments, the smaller fragments become dust, the dust becomes atoms. The blade's swinging continues, it hits the dragon's helmet almost as if there was nothing in its away, no air resistance, no defense from the dragon's part. The helmet becomes dust. At the same time, all of his armor is pulverized as well. On a single blow, he delivered slashes to the entire enemy. He stands naked, no weapons or armor on him, a blade covered in golden energy inches away from his head.

A golden explosion, the golden aura expands, devouring everything close to it, this time erasing space instead of distorting it. Victory has disappeared, taking some of the arena along with him. Lui lets go of the blade, which becomes a star once more and returns to the sky. Clay falls on her knees.

“...That was... pretty cool, but... I didn't want to lose again,” she says, feeling tears welling up, but also feeling something warm within herself. She lost, but seeing how strongly Lui fought, she can't help but think that even if she loses here, if he continues winning, the conflict will end soon.

“What do I do about her?” Stromhyde speaks up once more.

“Leaving her unconcious is enough,” the boy replies, dropping on his back as the arena and colosseum vanish.

He returns to the real world like that. The cold asphalt helps him cool down, that was too intense for his body. But it's not yet the time to relax, getting a hand from Ares, he stands up again. The girl he just fought is on the ground, the two decide to at least carry her into the building instead of leaving her there on the middle of the street. But just as they are about to enter, they notice someone looking at them. That person didn't walk by nor did she come out of any building, she simply appeared there. As usual, she had been there for a while, but remained unnoticed.

“Wow, to think you'd beat her like that. But, you know, it's as they say: 'she was the weakest out of us four, that means nothing,' or something,” the woman laughs by herself.

“Already the next one? And if there's only four, that sure is easier on us,” Ares has the girl on her arms, so she worries of whether or not she will be dragged into the otherworld again if the gate is opened like that.

“Hmm, since you're busy, I'll help myself with this kid here, ok? We'll be back soon, he's almost biting it anyway.”

“Hey, wai-” Right before her eyes, the two are enveloped by darkness, as Alice opens the gates of Tartarus. 'He barely got out of a battle, he should be tired... this is bad,' she bites her lips.

While the darkness certainly tried, it couldn't approach Lui. Almost as if there were walls around him, it kept trying to approach, it crawled onto that invisible barrier, and yet couldn't touch him. As a result, once he enters the otherworld, despite of her having opened Tartarus, Stromhyde is with him.

“Damn, so Sealing can block even Tartarus?” She clicks her tongue, she'd never guess that could happen. 'Should have been honest and picked the woman instead, this guy probably will be more trouble.'

“I'll stop any and every attempt at breaking the rules, don't underestimate me,” Strom looks at her with anger and disgust on his eyes.

“Actually, this might not be that troublesome... I mean, can you even fight like that?” laughing, she points to Lui's left arm. It has become a faint blue tone and is completely limp, not to mention its weight, he's actually putting an effort into keeping his body from tilting sideways.

“Let's find out together,” he raises his right hand. A blue star shines on the sky and falls straight onto his palm. Lui brandishes Mercury Blade, its weight evening out with his left arm's. 'If I lose here, she'll go after Ares... No matter the cost, I won't let you get to her!'

Fifteen years ago, a couple had their first baby. The two worked hard to prepare for it, to make sure the baby wouldn't lack anything and would grow up strong and healthy. They wanted it, they were prepared for it... and thus she came. They didn't have any preference over gender, but they were excited when finding out it was girl.

As any baby, she cried when she was born. But after that, she didn't cry. At all. When their friends heard they were gonna become parents, jokes concerning sleepless nights were often repeated, to the point they were excited to these nights as well, because if they overcame it, the fools would be those who mocked them.

But such occasion never came, the baby never cried. They put her on her craddle and she'd quietly fall asleep and continue that way until the next morning. If she got hungry, if she was thirsty, if she had loaded her diapers, she'd never make any sound. It was odd, they feared that she could be mute.

It didn't turn out to be case, she'd attempt to repeat words sometimes, but only very rarely. She was a baby who didn't try to talk and that didn't cry. While not something that should be negative, it was seen as such, as it simply wasn't normal for a baby to not do either of these. She didn't try moving around, she didn't make a sound, it's almost like if she was a doll.

It stressed the parents out. Sometimes they couldn't sleep because they feared what she could be doing, being alive while not making a sound. They'd look constantly go look at her during night and dawn, to make sure she was still with them. They thought she would just vanish one day, it made no sense. They tried talking to doctors, psychologists, babysitters and they all said 'that happens sometimes,' but that couldn't appease them.

'Why did we give birth to a broken baby,' the man would ask, a tired look on his eyes. 'Don't say that about our daughter!' the woman had her own doubts, she wouldn't deny, but she wouldn't ever think that way of her baby. 'She's different, but she's our one child... maybe in a few years she starts to laugh and talk normally, it's probably just something that will end,' she repeated it over and over, to convince both her husband and herself.

One day, when she returned home from work, she went straight for the bathroom, she needed to wash herself, she was too tired. The lights were already on, and putting that together with how her husband wasn't anywhere to be seen, and so was her daughter, she figured he was giving her a bath.

But what she walked into was her husband holding the baby underwater. She wasn't struggling, she wasn't showing any sign of suffering. She was certainly drowning, but it's almost as if she simply had accepted that was it for her. Without thinking twice, the woman kicked her husband away and saved her daughter. If she were one minute late, her daughter would certainly have died. If she had stopped to buy a drink, if she had stopped to eat something sweet, any of those would have killed her daughter, she thought. After coughing up the water that she swallowed and breathed in, for the first time since her birth, the woman certainly saw the baby smile.

'She's broken, Delphy... She isn't human,' her husband muttered, shedding tears while looking at the hands which attempted to drown his daughter. 'You're the one who isn't human,' she said, leaving their home. She occasionally would wonder if she didn't act to rashly, but at the time she had no doubts in her heart. She divorced that deranged man and moved to another city. All her preparations went for nothing, she was starting from square one alone with a daughter.

Hearing her story, her boss at the time and some coworkers gave her some support, along with recommending her to a certain office. She was living on a new city, but she had gotten a new home and a job, she believed everything would go alright. She couldn't help but feel so when looking at her daughter's smile.

Whenever she had a break, be it during the holidays or just any day where she didn't have to work, she'd try to take her daughter outside. 'Do you want to go play on the park?' she'd ask. The girl wouldn't answer, but would put on her shoes. The two would spend a few hours on wherever place they agreed to. The girl wouldn't say anything, the woman wouldn't talk much, but she wouldn't deny that she felt very happy to have such moments with the girl

After four years, the girl would finally speak for the first time. Her first words weren't 'mother,' 'father' or anything of the sort. The two would be watching TV one day and the girl would climb her mother's lap, look at her straight on the eyes and say 'thanks you.' For the mother, that was all she needed. She was still unsure about herself, unsure on whether divorcing and moving away was a correct choice or not. And a simple word of gratitude, the first words of the girl, made that doubt be cleared away.

After that, the girl would slowly become more and more talkative. When they went out, the mother would ask 'Do you want something?' to which the girl normally would answer by pointing to whatever she wanted to eat. But when she was a little over five years old, she answered 'Ice cream.' That was another moment in which the woman's happiness hit a peak.

The hardest thing for the woman was leaving her daughter alone. She'd always be tormented by the memories of when her ex-husband tried killing her. Daycare, school, alone at home, be it for some hours or a few minutes, she always felt a certain fear within her chest. But she couldn't afford a babysitter, nor could she grow to trust one. At times, she'd think leaving her alone was safer. 'She's a quiet and smart child, even if I leave her alone for a while, it will be fine... right?'

Thus, the girl spent a good part of her time alone. Even when she experienced being surrounded by other kids, nothing would change for her. She didn't offer many words, she didn't play for too long. Children would try playing with her for a while, get bored, then leave. More often than not, the girl would be found drawing on sand or notebooks. Vivid and cute pictures of dragons, fairies, animals, the creatures she often saw on the TV with her mother.

Eventually that'd develop into creating entire settings and stories of adventure, where she was always the main character, the strongest hero, the most powerful demon, the last of her race. For the mother, that was very amusing, her quiet daughter would spend long periods talking about all the scenarios created by her. She'd smile and ask 'tell me more, what did you do after defeating Oktogen, the Lord of Everlasting Nights and Cold Angels of Stone,' and the excite girl would proceed to continue her story.

The woman consulted her friends from work about what would be good to way to continue stimulating that shine she had when talking about her fantasies, and a young man which had just joined their company suggested videogames. He had an old one he didn't play anymore, and said he'd sell it to her very cheap, along with some games. Deciding it was worth a try, the woman bought it.

Needless to say, her daughter was thrilled and would play for long hours, then turn it off and write on her notes until falling asleep. Because of her 'special condition,' the girl would often skip school. The older she grew, less often she would go. While her mother didn't want to force her into a difficult experience, she wanted her daughter to have an education, so they often talked about it, and the girl, even while disliking it, accepted the task of going to school.

By the time she was ten, she was like any other child. The topics she talked about were different, the things she thought about were different, her hobbies were different from most, but she was lively and talkative as any child. Looking at her child, the woman sighed in relief. She knew it would turn out like this, not for a moment she didn't believe her daughter was as perfect as any other child on the world.

After a few years, work would get harder on the mother, but she also got more money out of that, and her daughter had already grown up a lot. Not only that, she was actually smarter than the average child, she could easily live by herself at age twelve, the mother believed. Writing, playing her games, using the computer she got, while indeed by herself, the girl was never quite alone. And she knew that, when night came, her mother would arrive, and that's something she always looked forward to. Before she had met with Elos, her mother was the only ally she had and also the only ally she wanted.

Now, these two allies are played against each other. The daughter has her body controlled by a malicious dragon, the mother wants to rid her daughter of that influence, despite not knowing what it is. ' A desert again?' the dragon comments to himself, covering his eyes. 'The sun is stronger this time...'

A mistake which takes a few seconds for him to realize. He searches for Delphine's spirit, but it isn't anywhere. Thinking if it's the sun's fault that something is escaping his vision, it comes to him. The sun isn't 'stronger.' Nor is it 'closer.' The correct answer is 'that isn't the sun.'

Shine that has surpassed light, a golden aura that burns like the sun, armed with a crystal sword and shield that can turn the darkest of nights into dawn, the God of Light, Ultimate Overray. As much as he might be an Absolute Deity, there are beings he'd rather never see again. Overray is probably #1 on that list.

Put simply and in Magna's words, Overray is one of those fools with hero of justice complex. He'll do what's correct and better for everyone at all times. And he not only has the strength to strike his justice, his heart is so pure and firm that Magna can't control him no matter what.

'Delphine... I knew you were strong thanks to the time I spent with you when living within Sirin, but to think you'd actually turn out to be bothersomely strong at heart,' Magna curses his choice of opening the gate. 'But if I defeat her before Overray explains what is going on...'

Magna shoots himself forward, throwing a punch against the confused and scared Delphine. His fist meets with a golden shield adorned with crystals, and by retreating on the nick of time, he dodges being slashed by a crystal sword. As if that shield being made of divine alloy wasn't enough, the aura that protects ultimates makes it even tougher. Same for the sword, an already extremely powerful blade is made even stronger by the power of ultimates. Hadn't Magna dodged, it could have been the end, even for a spirit like him.

“Whatever you're plotting, I won't allow you!” For Overray, seeing Magna is convenient. That dragon is the sort of being that, wherever he walks, he will leave at least one person with an intense desire to strike him at least once, Overray is no exception to that rule, and as the two have met countless time, his desire might be able to rival Rafil's.

A red dragon in golden armor. A muscular red dragon in a silver body suit. A crystalline blade clashing with a fist, the result is not the hand being chopped off, but the two flying backwards, then clashing once more. 'This... Is this what she meant by her delusions turning real? How long has she been seeing this sort of thing?' Just like her daughter, Delphine has no problem accepting what is happening. What exactly 'is happening' still hasn't sunk on her, but she understands there's dragons and they're fighting.

'Delphine, can you hear my voice?' Asks Overray. 'Don't answer with your outer voice, thinking is enough for us.' She lets out a small shriek, a sudden voice within her head gives a feeling worse than having someone sneaking on her back and screaming. 'Hm, in that case, I can hear you loud and clear?' she thinks, complying to the request. 'You might know nothing about me, but I've got the general idea of you. I am the golden dragon above you. The enemy is the other dragon, he's the one controlling your daughter.'

'...Ok,' she'd be lying if she said it all started to make any sense now. 'I'm your ally here, avoid the other dragon, is all you need to understand right now. I'll do the rest.' The two dragons continue battling. She has watched a show with Sirin that felt much like this. The two fighters would become scribbly lines, fly against each other, shockwaves would appear on the sky, both would send each other flying away, rinse and repeat. Even the 'Dragon' part fits, she finds it very amusing. Not the most appropriate timing for such thoughts, but she was told that the golden one would solve it for her, there's nothing she can do.

Sirin is nowhere to be seen, and Delphine wouldn't know she is somewhere there, so she doesn't worry at all. Aware that her motherly instincts would act above her reason, Overray chose to omit such a fact from her, as that would put her in danger. 'Drag-Magna... I cannot kill you, but if I can at least make you learn of your sins...' Overray's golden aura intensifies, he turns into an actual sweltering sun.

'Using your Ultimate Trigger so early? Desperate, are we?' Before Ray can shoot, from within the ruby on Magna's chest, a fireball shoots forth. A god's version of Cannonball is stronger and faster to use, he didn't even need to set himself on fire. However, that isn't enough to defeat Ray. 'Why would you think throwing fire at the sun would kill it?'

A beam of concentrated sunlight shoots forth from within the sun. Despite moving at the speed of light, Magna dodges it. He knew that Cannonball wouldn't affect it, he is as intelligent as he is strong, after all. The purpose of that was getting knocked back by the recoil, and using that momentum to dodge at the last minute, by a hair's width. Once locked on, to properly dodge the trigger is nearly impossible, but for a clever god with this sort of counter magic, it becomes possible.

The beam that is as hot as the sun turns half of the desert into glass. Delphine falls flat on her hindquarter, the light and what followed after it was too much for her. As far as her eye can see, everything has turned to glass. The dunes around them are fine, it landed miles away, but still a fearsome sight. 'I'm glad you're a friend, otherwise I'd honestly be crying right now,' she thinks, but Ray can't respond, he's already started engaging Magna again.

Two gods, a spirit and an ultimate, Power and Light. Magna's fist feels nothing upon hitting the crystal, but the same can be said about the sword, it doesn't even crack when meeting with his fist. They're evenly matched in power, which says more about Magna than anything. Even when faced with a god which became an ultimate, his fists are still enough to hold it down.

The two distance themselves from each other after a clash. They can repeat this routine for all of eternity, the only chance for Ray is to hit Magna with his Trigger. He could make use of omni-directional beams, but as that method would get Delphine caught in the beam, his only choice is to shoot a single one that has no guarantee of hitting.

His radiance increases once more, he locks his trigger onto Magna. But this time, they're closer to each other than they previously were. He believed Overray wouldn't be so foolish to try using his Trigger after knowing Magna can counter it, but, surely, he thought Cannonball was all Magna could do. 'I obviously am not so limited.'

The magma which runs across his body and armor spreads over his entire body. Just like Ray charges up into a sun, Magna turns into a dragon of lava. However, that lava isn't just lava, as Sirin noticed when Magna was weakened on their second battle, that is pretty much Magna's pulse, his heartbeat, his blood. Therefore, it is adequate to say that, at this moment, with his blood pumping hotter and more intensely than ever, Magna has his strength set to surpass his limits, he has entered overdrive mode.

'Trigger Counter – Sunbreaker.' Before Ray can shoot his sunlight beam, Magna throws a punch on the sphere of flames he had become. The orb shatters, revealing a very surprised Ray, who protects himself from Magna's other fist barely in time. This time, it's his golden aura that shatters, just like a defeated spirit, it becomes sparkling dust. After a flurry of punches, his shield breaks apart, but Magna's advance doesn't stop. His punches come one after the other, his fists only become hotter and hotter, faster and faster, the more he strikes, the more powerful he gets. He clashes into Ray and pummels him downwards, throwing him against the sand.

Ray didn't predict or expect this, he'll admit. But he will say that his next decision, while not his plan all along, was the answer he found to make the best of that situation. While being crushed by Magna's burning fists, his armor melting against his body and his bones breaking, Ray, with much struggle, holds onto Magna. His entire body is that lava-like fluid, no matter what he tried to go for, he would be injured, so his choice was based on what would give him the best grip.

Bear hugging the sweltering Magna, who now punches his abdomen to try and release himself, Ray recreates the barrier of golden around him. The barrier increases in radiance, becoming a small sun. His plan is to shoot the beams towards them, which will probably melt the two together, but if Magna is defeated and Delphine recovers her daughter, it will be a success, even if he ends up being sacrificed. That is Ray's determination.

His power is weak, the trigger counter succesfully broke him, but he won't give up. 'This sort of resolve... even if I kill him now, he'll still unleash his ultimate trigger!' Magna panics, unable to release himself, unable to counter in any way, if this goes on, it'll be the end for him. The sphere of light grows ever brighter, cutting the two away from the surrounding world. They're both unable to see anything beyond that dome, both are blinded by the photons.

“Moooom!” Sirin comes out from behind a dune, crying, running towards Delphine with her arms open.

“Sirin?! You were here?!” Seeing the dragons fight, she didn't even consider that Sirin could be there with her, she feels stupid. She runs towards her daughter and the two embrace each other.

“I... I did something bad to you, didn't I? It wasn't me, I swear!”

“Don't worry! I could tell that much! I am your mother, after all,” Delphine smiles, trying to comfort Sirin. Seeing her mother smile, Sirin opens a large grin as well.

“Then I'll do something nasty now. Flame Gust!” The wind itself catches fire and blows towards Delphine. The sand particles which were being carried by such a breeze become small shards of glass. As if the flames weren't enough, Delphine's body is pierced by the tiniest of needles, which would open small cuts which would then be cauterized instantly by the flames.

Out of all the methods to finish a battle, attacking the battler directly is the most effective. Especially an unexperienced battler. And to attack that battler with fire makes it even easier. The wounds fire leaves can last forever, for the sake of protecting the battler from carrying a wound they might never fully heal from, the otherworld shuts down almost immediately, it'd take a very determined battler to last through an attack of flames. Even Solon, who resisted as much as he could, gave up the moment he saw Cerberus' flames coming for him.

“Is there any low you won't sink to?!” Ray screams, not only angry, he is ashamed. To have such a being called the god of his country, to share a species with a being like Magna.

Back to the real world, Delphine is unconscious on the ground, and puppet Sirin continues her stride towards the facility Erika headed to and where the last of the Amaterasu can be found. After that battle, the body has become even weaker, but as long as the strings aren't cut, it won't stop moving. Even after it breaks, if Magna commands so, it might still continue walking.

A splashing sound. Finally, a sound which covers the babbling voices, something that allows her momentary peace of mind. Again and again, that sound echoes around her. Suddenly, the sound stops. She feels two arms taking hold of her. She felt that before some time ago, but while she felt it, she didn't hear or see anything. She was scared, but her body was released not long after being picked up.

This time, her entire body is lifted, she's taken away from the water and put in a solid surface. It's hard and makes her uncomfortable, it takes a moment for her to recognize it as a wood. A wooden boat, a boy with long dark hair rows it, the one who took him into the boat is a young girl with silver hair. While the boy is on the other edge of the boat, the girl is right in front of her, waving her hand in front of her eyes. It's only at this point that Sirin realizes her vision has returned.

“How many fingers do I have here?” The girl asks. She wears purple clothes, her hair goes all the way down to her knees. She isn't very tall, nor is the boy, and by looking at their faces, they seem to be around twelve.

“Two...” her body is still heavy, she can't move anything currently, but at least she managed to speak.

“Good. She's still fine,” the girl turns to the boy rowing the boat.

“So we made it in time... I'm glad,” the boy sighs in relief, the hand he has on chest tells his heart to calm down.

“Who are you...?” With much effort, she manages to make the question.

“We? We're...” The girl turns to the boy again, asking him what she should say. Without using any words, of course, her gaze alone transmits the message to him. In turn, the boy shrugs, telling her to go with whatever she wants. “We came here to give you a hand and... that's pretty much it, we just wanted to save you.”

“...Thanks,” Sirin closes her eyes. She feels like sleeping, but also that she can't sleep. She can no longer hear the voices, so she wants to at least enjoy the silence for a few minutes. To allow her that deserved rest, the boy quietly rows the boat, not splashing the oar on the water like he did before.

That sea is indeed Sirin's mind, but for beings like those two, entering such places isn't a problem. Setting her free from Magna's influence without him realizing might be a tougher task, but if they believed it to be impossible... they would still try it. They're both that type of person, individuals who simply cannot help but give others their help.