chapter fourteen | change of mind | waterfall

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Reaper stumbled back from Arael's attack. Judging from his wary expression, it seemed like he also knew how strong Arael was.

If he attacks me or Lyra, we were dead. But he was strategically targeting the brothers first.

Turning back into shadow, Arael slid behind Grim as quick as a flash. He came back to his human form and raised his glaive, planning to slice open Grim's throat. Just in time, the wind mage ducked. Arael teleported in front of Grim and struck him in the gut.

Grim fell down but quickly caught himself by placing his hand on the ground. He twisted his legs to hit Arael's ankles and quickly stood back up. Arael dodged and thrust his glaive towards Reaper, who was called back to reality, his eyes widening when he realised the weapon being sent to him.

"NO!" Lyra cried out in terror, drawing Arael's attention to her. Meanwhile, Reaper caught the glaive and slammed it onto the ground, using it as his own.

Arael switched his gaze onto Lyra, the corners of his mouth turning to form a devious smile.

Oh no.

In a matter of seconds, he appeared before her, sending a kick to her raised guns. Her weapons crashed onto the ground. Arael slid behind her. He materialised a knife and placed it against her throat.

No. No, no, NO, NO, NO!

"You all will be giving me all eight keys. If you all still hesitate to do so, I'll slice her throat open," Arael said nonchalantly.

I clenched my fists so hard that I could feel the pain from my fingernails digging into my palm. "How DARE you!" I sputtered.

"I wouldn't be too sure of speaking to me in that tone," Arael said as he pressed his knife deeper into Lyra's throat. Visible red marks could be underneath the blade's pressure. "Give me the keys. Now."

I looked at Sienna. Her irises flickered left and right in a state of a dilemma.

She can't do this. She can't let Lyra die. She can't lose a guild member. But she won't let a whole city lose its source of life. What do we do, what do we do, what do we do-

My racing thoughts were interrupted when a hand snatched one of Lyra's guns and placed it onto Arael's temple. Confused, my eyes shot up towards the person who did that and met a very familiar girl.

"Put the knife down, or I'll shoot you," spoke a steady voice.

She had long raven hair, with a dagger in her left hand, holding the gun on her right.

It was the girl we fought at Foraeldre.

Arael looked down to her and wrinkled his nose in disgust. "Betrayed by my own comrade?" He spat. "I never expected you to be the kind of person to do this sort of thing."

We all stood there in shock. The girl planted Lyra's gun deeper into his head. "Put the knife. Down."

A quiet moment passed. "...You really think you can beat me?" Arael said. Raising his foot up, he stomped onto the ground, a shockwave just like the one from Leon's passing through us. We landed on the floor, the friction against the stone ground sending pulses of pain through my back. Placing my hands on the ground to push me back up, I was thrown back down onto the floor by some force.

What? I can't move! It was like I was being held down by some kind of invisible barrier. The man walked slowly towards Sienna, picking up the Fire gem. Next, he approached Lana and retrieved the Darkness gem. Along with the others, I attempted to push myself back up in vain.


I heard the sound of a blade being driven through the invisible force shield holding us down. I strained my eyes to my right and saw the ice Dragonslayer charging at Arael, knife in hand. Sneering, Arael dodged her attack.

"Do you think I'm that stupid? I've learned all the flaws to your attacks after following you for so long!" she exclaimed, aiming Lyra's gun at him and shooting a few bullets at him. Arael tilted his head, letting the bullets pass by him as he jabbed her on the side. She dodged.

"What changed your mind so drastically?" he asked, using his glaive to slice at the ice dragonslayer Mage's abdomen.

She stepped from side to side, avoiding the weapon slash after slash. "After meeting these people," she spared a fraction of a second to look back at us, "I learned that I could follow another path. A much better path. If I continue on this path, my future doesn't seem to carry much promise, seeing all the wrongdoing you've done."

Arael scrunched up his face in annoyance. He slipped back into the shadows and reappeared behind her, drawing out his glaive again. As if knowing all his attacks, she jerked her head around and used her dagger's blade to clash it with the glaive, the familiar sound of metal against metal echoing through the halls.

Her fighting skills may not be on par, but once she learns an enemy's pattern, she becomes thrice as strong.

"Dragon's breath!" She cast the same spell used against us earlier on. The misty dragon took shape against and captured Arael in its fog. With a grunt, Arael struck out both hands in front of him like a shield, moving forward unsteadily, unable to do anything else as the defense.

The girl's eyes narrowed. This was her chance. Dagger before her, she rushed towards him, unaffected by the rush of icy wind from the dragon. A yell escaped her lips as her dagger struck Arael's chest, slashing through his torso's flesh. Crimson blood gradually oozed out of the wound, dripping past his hand onto the floor.

She did it. She was the first person to land a hit on Arael.

The rush of wind from the ice dragon diminished. Arael fell to the ground, his left hand dropping his glaive onto the floor with a loud clang, his right hand covering the center of the gash, speechless.

The hasty click of heels could be heard within the corridor leading to the room, serving a big contrast to the big heavy footsteps that Arael took. I painfully turned to look at who was coming up next.

Thrusting the doors open, the figure quickly emerged from the shadows, a tired but angered expression on her face.

It was Queen Malika.

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