“So, my sister truly did die in that dungeon.” Carmine sighed. “I suppose that explains you.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Salicia narrowed her eyes.
“Your obsessive personality. Your despisal of the church. Your conflicting actions. Take your pick. Dungeons are only the lore of a real story, but they become corrupted with time. It is similar for those created by the dungeon. The true Salicia died in a dungeon, and all of her strongest feelings were remade into you. You’re a parody of the sister I once had.”
“Don’t feel sorry for me.” Salicia sneered. “I’ve become more powerful than your sister ever was. I was able to achieve her dreams where she failed.”
“I don’t feel sorry for you. Quite the opposite. It makes it far easier to kill you!” Carmine leaped forward, slashing down with her sword.
“As if you can!” Salicia caught it with her own blade, a black cutlass that she had acquired in a dungeon at some point.
The two exchanged several blows. It quickly became clear that Salicia was faster and the better with the blade. Carmine threw a wide strike, and then Salicia struck her. However, she might as well have been fighting the wall. Carmine caught every strike on her shield, and even tossed up the shield, throwing Salicia off balance. She leaped back, opening up space between them.
“You won’t be able to get through my defense.”
“Heh… you forgot, the last time we truly compared my offensive ability with your defenses, it took the support of Master’s entire party just to keep you standing, and you still ended up passing out in the end. What makes you think things have changed now?”
“I’m not the same woman I was back then,” Carmine responded. “Being Master’s woman, it has changed me. You’ll find I’m not so simple anymore.”
“Oh? Funny. I was going to say the same thing!” Salicia laughed. “Then, how about it. Let’s see if you can handle it this time.”
Salicia held out her hands in a familiar position. This was the same skill she had once used on Carmine when they were chasing after them in Terra’s dungeon in what seemed like forever ago. This was a beam attack using darkness. Salicia’s magic wasn’t technically miasma like Astria’s was. Astria was a dark fairy, with a mana body that had been corrupted into miasma, making it a miasma body. Her techniques were different from Salicia and Shao. Shao used shadow and demonic magic, while Salicia used darkness.
The difference between miasma, demonic shadow magic, and darkness magic would be like the differences between mana, holy, and light magic. To the inexperienced eye, they’d seem interchangeable, but what they were and how to use them was fundamentally different for each girl. Although Carmine worked for the church, her magic was inherently light-based, which put her closer to Deek’s White Mage job than a priest. Darkness magic was a direct counter to light. That was to say it had an inherent property of decay. In short, where light was the fundamental of healing, darkness was the concept of destruction!
The two sisters couldn’t be more apart. One was born from this world, and the other was born from a dungeon. One was high defense. The other was a high offense. One favored rapid regeneration and high armor offered by light magic, while the other favored the destructive properties of darkness.
As a beam of darkness shot out from Salicia, a light exploded out around Carmine. The two strikes collided, causing the ground to rumble and the very world to both simultaneously darken and brighten, blinding everyone present. Salicia put everything into the strike, holding nothing back, just like the time in that dungeon. Meanwhile, Carmine remained steadfast, holding off the darkness with her shining light.
“Sister…” Although the power exploded out in the flurry, the darkness and light didn’t create a sound, so Carmine’s voice carried over to Salicia.
Salicia shook when she heard that voice. “S-sister?”
“When I lost my family, I joined the church to find a new one. Ultimately, my presence there was always a shallow one.” Carmine spoke calmly, even while resisting the dark attack. “When I found Deek, I didn’t just find my place in this world. I found a family where I would no longer be lonely.”
“Carmine…” Salicia’s mouth fell open and her strength wavered.
“I’ve never once stopped seeing you as family. You’ve been there with me from the beginning, and even after death, you’ve remained by my side. You are, and you always will be, my sister.”
Salicia’s beam of darkness died away. “S-sister… sister!”
She let out a cry and then ran for her sister, her arms held out, tears running down her face. Carmine gave a welcoming smile. Just as Salicia leaped out at her, Carmine raised her shield and then bashed the other woman on the head. To anyone watching, it’d look like Salicia leaped into Carmine’s shield face first with her arms out and a dumb smile on her face while laughing.
Salicia collapsed to the ground in a heap. Even though she was unconscious with a bump forming on her head, she had a smile on her face. It was filled with relief and happiness. Carmine looked down at her.
“Only you would fall for such a trick. You really are my stupid sister.” Carmine let out a sigh, but there was a slight smile on her lips too.
“Terra, I was always curious how tough you are.” Lydia pulled out her blade.
“I’ve also always been curious how sharp your blade is. We’ve always stood together at the front of the party. I’m his shield, and you are his sword. I’m curious how you measure up.”
“Would you like to make a bet?” Lydia asked.
Terra’s eyebrow’s raised. “A bet over who wins? What do you have in mind?”
“If I win, I want to exchange pointers.”
“Eh? I don’t use a sword though.”
“I’m talking about Master’s sword!”
“Ah! Y-you mean, his pe-pe…his sword!” Her face turned red.
“Miki, Celeste, and Shao have all let me help them improve their sexual techniques, but Terra has always given me the cold shoulder. Even the times I’ve been present, you’ve always done it under the sheets.”
“You’re using now to push that! You…” Terra blushed. “Se- it, with Master, is a personal thing.”
In truth, of all of the girls, Terra was the most conservative. Although Miki was shy, her curious, mischievous, and inquisitive nature often led her to experimentation. As for Terra, she was extremely vanilla sexually. When other girls participated in relations around her, she usually kept herself covered and kept her interactions to a minimum.
Unlike Celeste who had announced her sexuality as bi, Terra wasn’t interested in women. She’d occasionally joke about her experience, but despite her time with her master, she hadn’t done much. Part of it came from her lack of confidence when it came to her own sex appeal. Whether it was her dry rough skin not unlike the earth, her small stature, her flat chest, or her deceptively heavyweight, she was sensitive about her body. Part of it just came from her upbringing. Her parents were wizards and she was a bit reserved. The day she threw herself at Master for the first time in that pool was the most daring time of her life.
To Lydia, who had been taught many sexual techniques and still found it as the best way to serve Master, Terra’s lack of initiative was something she wanted to fix. She had worked hard to get both Miki and Shao to express their sexual side more aggressively. For Celeste, it wasn’t necessary, as the girl had no hang-ups. That left Terra as the final one.
“Will you do it?” Lydia asked.
“Ah… but what do I get if I win?” Terra shot back.
“Hmmm…” Lydia tapped her finger. “How about… one week?”
“Mm… you can have Master for one week without interference from other girls.”
“Master… all to myself? What about the rule?”
“The rules only worked when it was just the five of us. However, I can make sure Master is with you alone for one week, presuming… I lose.”
“I see… then I must win.” Terra declared.
“We’ll see!” Lydia exploded out, attacking Terra with her sword.
Terra blocked with her arm. The blade sunk into her wrist about halfway before stopping. There was no blood spurting out, and when Lydia pulled back her sword, it was stuck. Before she could react, Terra lashed out with her fist. At that range, although Lydia was fast, she only managed to pull back as it struck her. Terra’s fist was like an anvil slamming into Lydia’s chest. With a cry, she flew back, the sword dislodging from the force and sending her stumbling back.
She looked up at Terra in surprise. Terra’s arm healed at a visible speed, and within seconds there wasn’t a single sign of her attack.
“You won’t be able to damage me enough to put me down.” Terra declared.
“I may not have Celeste’s speed nor do I have the ability to do a ton of damage in a single hit like Shao, but of the five of us, my speed and skills allow me to do the most damage over time of any of us. A single slice may not hurt you, but death from a thousand cuts is an inevitability!”
Lydia leaped forward, her blade moving with extreme speed. Her attacks were lighter this time, making sure they didn’t get stuck within Terra’s body. However, her speed was faster than Terra could manage. She got hit time and time again, cuts forming all over her body. Terra gritted her teeth, trying to follow Lydia’s movements as she danced around her with her blade. More cuts form on previous cuts, and some of them didn’t have enough time to heal before even deeper cuts were made.
Terra made a desperate action, leaping forward and forcing Lydia’s next hit to land deeper than she intended. Terra grabbed the sword, locking Lydia’s movement, and then threw out another punch. The second Terra had a hand on Lydia’s sword, Lydia realized she had lost it. She abandoned the sword and leaped back, narrowly avoiding her blow. Terra ripped the sword from her side, and then put it into her inventory ring, locking Lydia from getting it.
“I wonder how many blades you have left?” Terra asked innocently.
Even though Lydia had a few spare blades, that was her best. If she used one of the others, Lydia foresaw the other woman using similar tricks to get all of them. Once she was out of weapons, Lydia wouldn’t be able to fight any longer. Terra had determined Lydia’s greatest weakness. Whether it was Celeste, Shao, or Miki, all three of them could fight without weapons. Lydia’s only strength came from her sword.
“Admit defeat!” Terra declared. “You have no more weapons!”
“I haven’t lost yet!” Lydia cried out, and her body began to morph.
Terra paled slightly as she saw Lydia take on her beast form. Her body didn’t just become stronger, faster, and more agile. She also grew long claws on her hands that could substitute for weapons. Each attack would cause even more damage to Terra than the swords.
“You… I didn’t want to have to use this since it’s still in the prototype stage, but you’ve given me no choice!” Terra cried out.
She suddenly pulled something out of her ring. It looked like a golem. However, when it appeared before her, she jumped into it. Suddenly, the golem began to rearrange itself, the back sealing tight. With a rumbling sound, the creature began to stand up, and the eyes began to glow with light.
“Wh-what is that?” Lydia took a step back, staring at the seven-foot-tall golem in shock.”
“I worried I might not be able to keep up with the rest of you after you all showed your abilities to change. Shao’s Demon lord form, your beast form, and Celeste’s wind form… so I built my own. Master calls it a mech golem. I composed it of adamantine recovered from the wilderness. Its defense cannot be understated.”
The golem was solid rock, smoothed on the outside, with hulking shoulders and a round dome head and two glowing eyes.
“E-even if your defense is better, you still won’t be able to stop me.”
“The thing is… I didn’t build it for defense, I built it to increase my offense! Now, we can see who is stronger. My brains, or your brawn!”
“Then, I won’t hold back!”
Lydia let out a roar that sounded like a tiger, causing the hearts of those nearby to tighten. Terra slammed her fists together, creating a sound like two boulders being smashed. Lydia began to run full sprint at Terra, even going to four legs before leaping up at her face. Terra lumbered forward, each step causing the earth to shake. The two collided, each strike causing booming sounds to fill the air as they battled.
While Terra and Lydia’s fight became increasingly brutal, most of the other fights actually ended rather quickly. There was a brief flash of brilliance, and then one or the other was defeated. Perhaps Celeste and Astria’s had lasted the longest. During this time, two people had been facing each other, feeling each other out but not moving to attack. Those two were Shao and Elaya. Shao was a skilled assassin, capable of dealing a killing blow from the shadows, where Elaya was an undead sorceress who could cast powerful spells.
“Shao, you may have some talent as a demon lord, but I killed demon lords since before you were born.”
“Correction,” Shao shot back. “You failed to killed demon lords before I was born.”
“You…” A dark miasma began to flow from Elaya. “Good, then you’ll excuse me if I no longer act nicely. I was once called the maid hero. You might be a good assassin, but direct confrontations are not your strength. The outcome has already been decided, little girl! It’s time to die!”
“Gegegegegege!” Elaya collapsed to the ground as sizzling sounds filled the air. “Miki, what are you doing? We’re on the same side!”
“Ah, are we?” Miki asked innocently.
“We are!” I shouted back at her.
“Well, excuse me for getting confused, Master!” Miki shot back.
“I will forgive this for now…”
“Gegegegegegege!” Elaya had to create a layer of miasma to protect herself, as that attack might have seriously hurt her. “Wh-what? Carmine? Was that you! We’re on the same side too!”
“Sorry, I saw an evil being and reacted on impulse. It won’t happen again.” Carmine responded, not looking apologetic at all.
“Are you all bullying me? This is bullying me!” Elaya looked around as she got hostile looks from both sides.
“Isn’t this all your fault?” Several wind blades shot out and Elaya needed to roll away to keep from losing her head.
“Me? What did I do?”
“You encouraged Master to fight himself!” Miki cried out.
“You went to the dungeon and convinced them to become hostile,” Carmine added.
“You also forced people to take sides, and even made my mother do so!” Celeste shot out.
“Your mom? That’s right!” Elaya’s expression brightened as she turned to the tattered woman. “Astria! Astria! Help me, the children are bullying me.”
“I love my daughter!” Astria cried out, holding Celeste. “I’ll follow her.”
“You’re changing sides? I won’t accept that! You won’t have access to your precious Miasma!”
“That trick won’t work on me anymore!” Astria shot back. “Celeste said Master talked to the dungeon master and she won’t interfere in our conflict!”
“Xin said that? Even she betrays me! My own woman… why would she do such a thing? After I tied her up and made her do this and that… ah… is it because I went overboard? Xin, is this getting revenge for me playing too rough?”
Xin wasn’t there to answer, but the answer was probably yes.
“So, I will stay on my daughter’s side.” Astria declared.
“Mom…” Celeste looked at her mom with teary eyes.
“Daughter…” Astria looked back.
“Can you please stop squeezing my breasts?”
“Only if you stop fondling my butt.”
“F-fine… you can continue.”
“What is with this mother-daughter duo?” Elaya cried out.
“They were distracting you!” A voice came from behind Elaya. “Shadow Decimation!”
“Uh oh!” Elaya didn’t have time to react because Shao had already attacked.
While the others attacked her and ridiculed her, she had let her guard drop. Shao had used that time and her shadow magic to bridge the gap between them. A shadow clone where she had been standing only just started to lose her appearance as she infused her blade with a vicious shadow attack and slammed it into Elaya’s back.
Destructive energy was breaking through her body. If it happened to someone like Deek, he might have used White Mage spells and had been able to remain alive. However, Elaya’s largest weakness was that despite all of her magic, her body was pretty fragile. Fragile was a relative thing when talking about a powerful sorceress, but it was enough for Shao to take care of with a direct backstab.
“You… you got me…” Elaya said tightly.
Under the cold gazes of the girls, Elaya’s body slowly turned to ash. Her eyes looked up at the sun as she turned into nothing. The gentle breeze took her body away until there was not a single spec of her remaining.
“We know you’re not dead.” Miki crossed her arms angrily. “Stop being melodramatic.”
A few meters away, the ash spontaneously reformed in half a second, where her death scene had taken nearly thirty seconds.
“Tsk… no fun. Fine. I concede. I can tell I’m not wanted here.” Elaya turned to the Deeks. “Shall we g… ah!”
While the other girl’s fights were winding down, Deek and Deedee had reached the final phases of their own battle too.