Chapter Eighty-Seven – Hell on Earth

Lucy knew that Anzu wasn't incorrect about her predicament. It had been ages since the need for her to handle a battle firsthand. She felt sluggish—rusty, down to her senses and joints—but she was worst of all bogged down with intense, confusing emotions. It didn't matter to her in that moment, or perhaps her mind was too scattered to worry, because she knew she had to stop her own sister there and then unless more people were to be hurt.

A fire burned in her eyes. More literally, up her hand. The fingers on her right began to glow like hot iron, with the heat warping the air around her skin. Like a wild animal, she lunged a quick step forwards before slamming down her hand, and from it came huge blade-like waves of fire that burned trails in the dirt behind them. Hellfire Claw!

Four in total came careening towards Anzu. Immediately, she brought up her hands like a cross before her chest, and she stood her ground like a statue in the sand. Her eyes flashed, and ice materialized rapidly in front of her to form a towering shield of frosted crystal. Two of the fiery blasts collided with and shook the barrier. Though it didn't break, it cracked, and steam shot off to cloud the area around them.

She was quick to retaliate. Anzu slammed her right palm down to the ground as the shield before her crumbled into chunks of ice. From her hand, a web of white lines trailed out to cover the entire area around them almost immediately. Frozen Maiden!

As she tensed her arms, the true power of the attack unleashed itself. Thin but tall spikes of solid ice began shooting up from the ground, like spikes of iron meant to impale her victim. They started slow, but the frequency and speed of the icicles increased. All Lucy could do was dodge, and was nearly skewered several times. Before she could be, her fire burned hot and bright, and with an aura of raging flames, she charged straight through two of the towering spikes and towards her opponent, leaving only shattered, sparkling crystals drifting down in her wake. Her hands were shaking, but she came to a halt to unleash an inferno of fire from the flat of her palm, like a sideways tornado of the hottest flames.

Anzu shielded her body from the painful burning, and managed to glide on ice she generated from her feet off to the right in order to dodge the bulk of the attack. But she was singed, and Lucy was wounded as well. Both were tired, yet the battle of ice and fire continued.

"Please. None of this is right," Lucy managed to utter through deep, struggling gasps for air.

"You're right. None of this is right. That's why it needs to be changed. And I know that you know that too. So don't spit in my face while you go and do the exact same thing!"

From Anzu's hands, a spark of ice became a javelin-like shard of ice. It shot like a bullet towards her sister, but it was aimed rather high. She managed to duck beneath it by bringing herself low to the ground. However, that was the plan all along. Lucy glanced down to see her own feet frozen to the dirt. When her eyes turned back up, they widened in surprise as Anzu was skating towards her across frozen sand at an alarming speed.

"It isn't like that!" Lucy shouted.

"It's exactly like that!" Anzu dashed through the flames that burned like an aura around her foe, and dug her knee directly into her solar plexus. As the ice shattered, she brought Lucy down to slam into the ground, and she pinned her down with a hand to her neck.

Lucy didn't immediately try to fight back, but Anzu didn't immediately lop off her head. They both paused for an unexpected moment.

"I've been thinking about this meeting for a long time, Lucy." The violet maiden stared daggers down at the woman pinned beneath her. There was a sudden, growing frustration in her face. "I visualized it many times. So why then, Lucy? Tell me this. Why, unlike all those times in my head, are you crying?"

Before she could respond, Anzu continued. "You're a hypocrite, Lucy. You and the others blame me for dabbling here. For trying new things. I'm trying to make a difference. Do you think I don't know about you and that TL guy? After all those years, you actually fell in love with a human. Something changed... Now, you keep dealing in human affairs, even though you shouldn't. I know you even gave Drodias to a a regular man. Not even a wizard! Yet you're here to stop me from doing the same. We both know this world has to change, Lucy. You're just too much of a coward to embrace who you are."

Like she said, tears were pooling down Lucy's cheeks. But it wasn't because she felt insulted. She felt the harsh truth in what she heard. Though, above all else, there was something greater that was making her cry.

"You're right..." she muttered. "But I mostly mean about something you said earlier. You questioned why I'd even trust you. I'm crying, Anzu, because the truth of the matter is that I—"

It was hard for her to find the words.

"Stop babbling!"

Lucy continued. "I didn't trust you!"

She wasn't certain how to respond to what was just shouted into her face. It took her by surprise. Mostly, it was from the sheer emotion behind it, as if she was calling out in desperation. Never before did she see her sister so defeated, and it wasn't even from losing a fight. There was something more going on, but she had little time to think about it.

The sound of a door behind her—above in the sky—caused her head to turn. Her eyes started to widen. Not only was a mahogany door present in the air, but a cloaked silhouette appeared drifting down, blocked by the sunlight.

Before Anzu could mouth, "Your phone," it was too late. She needed to react to the figure about to land on top of her, so she turned around, and raised her one palm upwards towards it. A gust of wind, enough to freeze a man solid, burst out in a cloud to engulf the figure entirely. However, when it dispersed, there was no frozen individual, but completely empty air.

A warm palm came close to her cheek. By the time she saw the man standing there, he had already unleashed an explosion of kinetic energy, causing her head to spin and her entire body to fly meters away from Lucy's. Push!

Eldrian stood there, garbed in blue as usual, standing over the mess that was Lucy. When she turned, she saw his hand being offered down to her, and she accepted the help to stand.

"That was the hardest thing I've had to do. Listen to all of that, the whole time, but stay where I was," he said. "But we're here now. I'm sorry this didn't work out like you wanted."

A strange, pained look twisted Anzu's face. There was a deep insult that cut deep, more than she had felt in a long time. With a wobble, she brought herself to a kneel, and stared in frustration at the wizard standing beside her sister.

She turned, and not far behind her was another man. He was surprisingly attractive—long brown hair, smooth skin, well-kept facial hair, a pair of silver earrings, and a toque. She lashed out with her hand, but he disappeared in an instant. Now, on the ground, was a tiny bird. It fluttered up to her chest, and shaped immediately into the form of a brown bear, which catapulted her yet again onto her back.

The animal became Daveon, and he stood there with a serious expression. Then, one by one, there was Deena, Renatta, Arlandria, and her other two sisters, Kali and Mara.

"This is exactly what I meant," Anzu muttered. "You damn hypocrite."

"Lucy is different—" Eldrian started, but Lucy put her hand up to stop him.

She hung her head. "You're right. I do dabble more than I should. And maybe it's because of my own bias. But I don't attack cities, and hurt innocent people, Anzu. What you're doing is making an army. Is this the peaceful co-existence you seek?"

"And what's better?" Anzu asked. "Locking wizards away. Locking demons away. And I'd be surprised if they didn't even have elves locked away somewhere around here! This world is a mess."

"We're done here, sis!" Mara called out. "You're not calling for help either. So please, just come with us. We can talk it out together, with father."

"I don't need to call anybody... You're not the only one with allies. And mine are more terrifying than yours could ever be."

Arlandria tried to gasp, but her mouth was immediately covered. Dark blue, nearly black, tendrils burst out from the ground beneath her abruptly, and wrapped around her arms, mouth, and throat. She squeezed them as much as she could, but they wouldn't budge.

"Arly!" Eldrian yelled. He hustled over to her, but at the same time, he saw from the corner of his eye Anzu suddenly gliding away on her back as a trail of ice formed in front of her.

"I've got her!" Renatta called out. Fast on her feet, she leapt into action, and spun one of her chakrams out towards Anzu as she continued to sprint.

All she saw was the sun's light glisten off a scythe before a wall of stone erupted up from beneath them, right after Anzu slid past it. The chakram ricocheted off the rock and flew straight back into her hand. "Oh no you don't!" Kicking off the ground, she flew through the air, and slammed both of her feet directly into the wall. A shock of force and fire radiated from the impact, and it first cracked and them crumbled down the middle.

However, nothing was on the other side beyond remnants of frozen sand.

Eldrian, consoling the now-free Arlandria, squinted back. "It was him again," he whispered.

"She had a wizard in hiding this whole time. That's impressive," Kali said. "I didn't even notice. But I guess I was too distracted by everything. I'm sorry."

"It's nobody's fault," Lucy said. "If it was anybody's, it would be mine anyhow."

Mara hustled over and wrapped her arms around Lucy's torso for a tight embrace. "That's not true either. We heard everything over Eldrian's phone, and we don't believe a word of it! You're nothing like her."

While Lucy was certainly bothered by the exchange, Eldrian was put deeply into thought. He considered all of Anzu's words, and no matter how much he fought, he couldn't help but feel strangely understanding towards them. But he shook that off, because he knew deep down, that her methods were wrong, no matter how interested he was in her intentions. He knew, however, that he would be thinking about it for quite some time.

"That's it then," Lucy spoke dejectedly. "That was our one chance to convince her. Now she's out there with no way of us knowing where, with her own private army of demons she snuck out from our homeland, and if she has a wizard too, there's no telling who else is helping her."

Eldrian made his way over, and he put a hand over her shoulder. "Don't worry. There's no way she'll do nothing. If you all make sure she doesn't keep getting reinforcements from your side, we'll be ready to jump the moment she makes a move here. No matter what kind of terror she unleashes on Earth, we'll all be there to stop it. Right, guys?"

There was no hesitation in their agreement, even Deena. They nodded.

"Oh, Kevin. You're just so brave and strong," Kali cooed as she wrapped her arm around him, and pressed her cheek against his hair.

Kevin reacted with rosy cheeks. "You didn't put another shadow in me, did you?" he whispered nervously.

"All right. Mara. Kali. We're heading home. Though it might not go over well, we have no choice but to tell father what happened," Lucy explained, pulling on Kali's arm as she walked. "Goodbye for now. Thank you for everything, everybody... I'll try to find a way to thank you properly in the future, but we have work to do. We'll keep in touch."

They nodded, and with that, the three devil sisters departed down a fissure in the ground, as they usually do.

"Hey, uh. What do you guys exactly think of him?" Eldrian asked as they were left alone.

"Who?" asked Daveon.

"That creepy wizard guy we keep running into. The mass murderer. Somehow, he still hasn't been caught, probably because he's with Anzu. But there's something about him. He's not like any wizard I've encountered before. According to Poppet, I think he... burst out of the ground at a cemetery?"

"If you're that considered, we could look into the records of who was buried there," Deena replied.

He pondered. "That could help us out. He's clearly bad news. I'll try to contact Poppet. Maybe she'll know more, since she's the one that accidentally woke him up. Or something like that."

Around them, for a couple dozen meters in every direction, was nothing but destruction. There were holes in the dirt, frozen sand, scorched earth, and with the conflict ended, not a single noise to be heard. Yet nobody would ever know what happened that day in Saskatchewan. Thankfully for them, barely anybody lived there to begin with.

Night eventually came and everybody rested. At least, they tried to. Some could hardly fall asleep. Darkness stirred in the heart of Canada, and all the rest could do was wait for it to surface.

Stay tuned for Chapter Eighty-Eight - Alignment!