“Oh dear, it looks like they’re all going to die,” Sabra laughed, glancing towards Kazmir preparing his final attack. “Oh well, I might lose Brayden Valero and the Dark Oviri’s trust, but I’ll still get my way.”
Blaze could barely breathe as Sabra held him up by the throat with his feet just off the ground. Blaze couldn’t do anything, being under the Perfect Puppet spell had weakened him. None of his injuries would heal, and most of his strength still hadn’t returned. If it had, Blaze would have easily been able to get out of Sabra’s grasp.
“This might be perfect actually, perhaps I’ll go assist him,” Sabra continued. “When people discover what happened today, the little Phoenix Hunter will completely flip out. Not only will she come for me, but she’d attack the bastards at the MLC who sent all of you to your deaths. The CSOG will take advantage of this and war will break out. Once little Miss Azaliea is distracted, I will kill her with my own two hands. Then this world will be mine to control, and no one will be able to stop me.”
Blaze managed to grab onto Sabra’s arm and attempted to pull his grasp away from him. However, the large hands from his mutated body were too strong to move.
“I-I’ll stop you,” Blaze struggled to say. “I won’t let you hurt Allie, Ray or anybody else.”
“Ohhh really? After losing so badly you still…” Sabra chuckled.
Before he finished his sentence, he frowned and turned his gaze back to Blaze. He stared at Blaze as he struggled to free himself for a couple of seconds. His eyes widened in realisation as a horrid toothy grin appeared on his face.
“Why didn’t I see it before? It wasn’t the Valero I needed. It was you,” Sabra sneered, tightening his grip around Blaze’s neck. “There’s only one person who used to call little Miss Azaliea by Allie. I once heard her say that it was a precious friend who passed away and she refused to let anyone else call her by that name. I should have known that person was you, Shario Aliené.”
It was no good. Blaze could no longer breathe as his vision blurred, his head spun, and his body became numb. The hand he had holding onto Sabra became limp and fell by his side. As Sabra’s deep, rumbling laugh continued, Blaze found he couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore.
“Ah, how badly I want to snap your neck in two right now. I can only imagine the look on her face when the precious friend who came back to life was sent back to her as a corpse,” Sabra laughed. “But that won’t be enough, I could still use you. Fall back into your puppet state and become the perfect tool to kill little Miss Azaliea once and for all.”
Without warning, there was a massive explosion that made Blaze’s ears ring, and Sabra’s grip on his throat loosened slightly. He then felt something rush past him. He soon found himself out of Sabra’s grasp and falling to his knees. Coughing and gasping for air, Blaze rubbed his aching throat for a minute until he was able to breathe again. As his vision finally cleared, he looked up to find that Sabra was gone and that Azaliea was standing in front of him. She turned around and looked down at him with her bright green eyes.
“A-Azaliea…? How did you…?” Blaze asked hoarsely.
She walked closer to him and stood right in front of him. She suddenly started to hit him on the top of his head with the side of her palm. It was only lightly, but each time her hand made contact it ached slightly.
“Ack, that hurts…” Blaze muttered. “W-what are you doing?”
“Knocking your screws back into place,” Azaliea claimed blatantly. After hitting him a few more times, she stopped and sighed heavily. “Honestly Blaze, what were you thinking?”
“I…” Blaze mumbled.
He looked away from her and kept his gaze down. There were so many things he wanted to say. He wanted to tell her that he was actually Shario and apologise for failing to be her old childhood friend. He also wanted to ask her where she had been and why she erased his memory of her and only her. Most of all he wanted to beg her to come back, not just for him but for Ray’s sake as well. He thought that maybe if he could reunite the two of them, he wouldn’t feel so guilty about all the terrible things he’d done over the past few years. However, no matter how much he wanted to talk to Azaliea about all those things, he couldn’t find the courage to say them aloud.
“Sorry,” Blaze muttered. “I… messed up.”
“So, my spell wore off, huh?” Azaliea stated, her voice softening. “Well, I guess manipulation magic was never my area of expertise, but it seems you’ve been busy since I last saw you. Are you okay?”
Blaze looked up to find Azaliea holding out her hand, attempting her best not to make eye contact with him.
“Not that I care that much,” she claimed as her eyes flickered back to him occasionally. “It’ll be a pain if you died, it would really increase my workload.”
Blaze went to grab Azaliea’s hand, but before he could, he noticed a small and sharp object hurtling towards her. He went to warn her but had she already noticed it, her eyes darted to the object. It stopped mid-air moments before it hit her back and then danced its way into her left hand.
“Oh, dear me, did no one ever tell you it’s rude to attack someone when their back is turned,” Azaliea smiled as she turned around. “Have you learnt nothing, Sabra Blackwell?”
“Phoenix Hunter!” Sabra growled, coming back into view. “Die!”
Sabra bolted towards Azaliea, pulling out his clawed hands to attack her. The mutated man was nearly double her size, but she easily punched him in the chest with her right fist. The impact made a massive gust of wind that was almost as strong as Blaze’s magic as Sabra was sent flying backwards. His feet slid across the dirt, and the heavy blow forced him to fall to his knees, slamming his fists into the ground.
“Curse you…” Sabra snarled.
“Wow, you’re stronger than I remember,” Azaliea said, as her eyes examined Sabra. “Your body has become mutated since we last faced off.”
“Azaliea,” Blaze called as he got to his feet. “He’s the one who…”
“I’m aware,” she replied. “He’s the one who killed Nero and the others, right?”
“How did you…” Blaze started to ask, shocked that Azaliea already knew the truth.
“I’ve known for a while, but I simply couldn’t find him. So, I suppose I have you to thank for that,” Azaliea shrugged. “Though I must say I didn’t expect him to look like this. What could he have…”
Azaliea frowned turning her attention to the object in her hands. Since he was on his feet, he could see that the thing Sabra threw at her was the syringe he had used earlier. She examined it carefully before a horrific smile appeared on her face.
“Well, what do we have here?” she sneered. “Looks like things got more interesting.”
“What do you mean?” Blaze asked, slightly frightened by Azaliea’s reaction.
“Little miss Azaliea, this is the end of the line for you,” Sabra snarled, back on his feet and walking towards her. “I’ll kill you. I’m going to make you pay for humiliating me.”
“And in three, two, one…” Azaliea counted, completely ignoring Sabra. “Zero.”
As soon as the last word left her lips, Sabra began to scream. He bent over clutching his head squirming around on his feet.
“It burns! It hurts!” he shrieked as he wrapped his arms around his body and began to use his claws to scratch the skin of his arms.
“Oh, I thought that was going to happen,” Azaliea claimed, pretending to act concerned.
“Hey! What’s goin’ on over here?” Dimetrios called out from behind.
Blaze turned to see the other members of Twilight Heart and Visola Marino running up to him, with quizzical looks on their faces. After being attacked by Kazmir, they all seemed to be quite scratched up, covered in dirt and looking a little tired. Ray, in particular, was in pretty bad shape. He was being carried on Dimetrios’s back, looking shockingly paler than before, his body had gone limp with a weak and distant gaze that made it look like he was going to pass out at any moment.
“What did you do to me you little bitch?!” Sabra shrieked before Blaze could respond to Dimetrios’s question.
“How unbelievably rude, I did nothing. You did this to yourself,” Azaliea stated as she spun the syringe in her hand. “This vial contained the blood of Apollo, did it not? That does explain your mutation and Phoenix-like powers.”
“The blood of Apollo?! Phoenix powers?!” Lynx exclaimed. “Is that even possible?”
“Of course, I do know what I’m talking about you know,” Azaliea smirked turning to face him.
“Hey aren’t you…?” Lynx muttered in shock.
Blaze noticed that everyone aside from the ailing Ray looked at Azaliea in shock, almost as if they recognised her. He shook his head. It was impossible for anyone to know who she was since her existence was a complete mystery to almost the entire world.
“Azaliea…?” Pennie said.
“Oh, you know who I am?” Azaliea blinked, looking quite surprised that someone knew her by name. “Interesting…”
Sabra began to scream again, falling to his knees and grabbing onto his stomach. Azaliea turned back to the man withering in pain as a smile appeared on her face.
“My, I guess you really didn’t know. You really had no clue that Apollo’s blood is poisonous to all Oviri,” Azaliea claimed. “I daresay you have only a day or two left to live.”
“You lie, bitch!” Sabra shrieked, still bent over in pain. “I won’t die until you die first!”
“Hmmm, is that so?” Azaliea hummed, watching intensively as Sabra got back on his feet.
“Well it seems we have a common enemy,” Kazmir bellowed, landing behind Sabra causing the ground to shake. “That creature gave me these scars. She must be taken down.”
“My, men can be petty,” Azaliea sighed. “Very well, I’d be glad to fight the two of you if that’s truly what you wish for. However, you really should have attacked me instead of blabbing your plans. It’s a complete waste of time and has given you a disadvantage.”
“You really thought it would be just us?!” Sabra laughed diabolically before clapping his hands together.
As the noise drifted in the summer breeze, the ground cracked, and a large group of men and women jumped out, surrounding the group. Blaze recognised the group as the members of Destruction that had disappeared from the battlefield. His eyes darted from side to side, guessing that Sabra had them hide in case the current situation occurred.
“So, the plot thickens,” Azaliea sighed. “This is becoming a real pain.”
“We could really use one of your plans now Valero,” Dimetrios said, looking back to Ray.
“I-it’s no good… my head hurts s-so much I… can’t see anymore…” Ray mumbled quietly, lifting his head wearily. “B-but… Azaliea can make o-one… right…?”
Blaze was surprised that Ray actually remembered Azaliea. He knew for a fact that he didn’t remember her at all and wasn’t supposed to ever regain his memory of her. He guessed it must have happened during his absence, though his memory of her only returned recently as well. Blaze turned his gaze to Azaliea, who seemed a little surprised herself. Her mouth was open slightly and blinked as her gaze remained fixated on Ray.
“Right…” she replied dully.
Blaze waited for her reaction. Ever since he knew Azaliea, or least as long as the current him did, she quite often talked about Ray. He expected her to become happy to see him once more, to look thankful that he was alive or even become a little emotional. At the very least he thought she’d become very concerned about his current state, but she didn’t react at all and just stared at him. It was faint, but he could see the slightest bit of pain in her eyes as she looked away.
“Anyway, the best option for all of you is to run. I’ll take things from here,” Azaliea claimed, as she drew her focus on Sabra and Kazmir.
“And what of me Lady Azaliea? What are your orders?” Visola bowed.
“I need you to look after them, they’re in pretty bad shape and need all the help they can get,” Azaliea stated, not looking at Visola. “After that, you are free to do as you wish.”
“Understood,” Visola bowed.
Azaliea then walked up to Blaze, stood in front of him but avoided his gaze.
“May I ask a favour of you Blaze?” she asked.
“Sure,” Blaze replied, knowing she’d only ask if it was something important.
“Look after Ray for me, okay?” she muttered as she tapped her fist on Blaze’s chest and looked down at her feet with a frown. “You’re the only one I can trust.”
She didn’t give him time to reply and started to run away from Blaze and towards Sabra. She didn’t get very far before she stopped and turned around to face them again.
“Oh, and please do take care of yourself as well,” she smiled as she gave a small curtsy.
“End of the line Phoenix Hunter!” Sabra shouted, suddenly behind Azaliea.
As he hovered in mid-air, he went to punch her with his massive clawed hands. She was quicker once again, thrusting her wrist against Sabra’s, completely stopping his attack. She then kicked him in the chest, sending him flying back towards Kazmir. She bolted towards the monsters at great speed while preparing her assault.
“We have to get going,” Blaze claimed, turning away from Azaliea’s battle and started running in the opposite direction.
“Wait, shouldn’t we help her?” Kaela asked, running after him.
“No, we’ll only get in her way,” Blaze stated. “I have faith that she will win no matter what.”
Everyone else followed his lead. Once they got out of what remained of Enlil they would probably be safe, but they had to be quick. Blaze glanced back to watch Azaliea hurtle herself towards Kazmir with fire circling her body. She punched him, sending his body crashing to the ground with a shrill scream. He knew how freakishly strong the girl was despite her small height, but it didn’t stop him from worrying about her. Every inch of him wanted to run back and assist her, but he knew he couldn’t. He had to keep the promise he made to her. He needed to protect the Twilight Heart members from any more harm to make up for his horrible actions over the past year. When he turned his gaze back to in front of him, he found that their path had been blocked by the anti-government guild. Blaze stopped and turned to see that they had been surrounded.
“Damn it, they really won’t let us go,” he growled, as his eyes darted around at the many Oviri.
There had to be at least fifty, and they were coming closer. Blaze summoned his dagger to his hand and tried to turn it back into an axe. However, his energy was so low it wouldn’t work. He then darted his eyes to Kaela and Lynx, who both had swords in their hands preparing for the imminent attack. Unfortunately, it was easy to see that they were exhausted and bothered by the heat that they wouldn’t last much longer in battle. Dimetrios was still holding onto Ray and would be unable to do anything, while Pennie looked so pale that it wouldn’t have surprised Blaze if she passed out at any minute. There was Noah, but he was practically useless as he never did anything. That only left him and Visola, but he didn’t know the woman and had no idea if she’d be any help. Not to mention he had no idea how much longer his body would hold out. He considered using his transportation magic, but Blaze had never used it on others before and had no idea if it would work. With a sigh, he knew that fighting was the only answer.
“Great! If my hands were free, this would be easy!” Dimetrios complained. “Valero, we could really use your help now!”
Ray muttered something, but it was too quiet and slurred that no one could make out what he had said. Blaze frowned, knowing that the Fire Elemental was getting worse. It was another reason they had to get out of Destructions grasp as soon as possible, as Ray needed medical attention and fast.
“Looks like I’ll have to step in anyway,” Azaliea claimed, landing gracefully in front of Blaze.
“Azaliea what about…” Blaze began turning around to find Sabra running towards them and that Kazmir was nowhere to be seen.
“They can wait, getting all of you to safety is more important,” Azaliea stated, summoning a purple fan with silver decorations to her hands and opening it.
Blaze watched in shock and amazement as she twirled around. She completely ignored the army that ran at her as she began to chant a spell.
’Take us to the place before mistakes were made
away from the danger and to somewhere safe
so that we may start again and return to zero.’
“I invoke…” Azaliea said as she stopped spinning and stomping her feet together. She then raised the fan into the air and closed it quickly, making a snapping noise. “Beginner Restoration!”
Light filled Blaze’s vision as quickly as he could blink. The last thing the saw was Azaliea, who turned to him and smiled. The entire group was transported far away from Enlil, leaving Azaliea to face Sabra and Destruction alone.