Pandemonium Vol 2: The Merchant of Bleakhold
Volume 2.6: The Ultimate Sacrifice
Noticing how their attacks fell through completely, Shizu and Rin settled upon a huge boulder to regroup. Asta and Avy were forced to pause their attack while their skills began to cool down.
Shizu: “Rin, it is time for us to be serious once more. Let us bring an end to this battle.”
Rin: “As you wish, Shizu.”
From a distance, Asta saw the shadow duo standing still while holding a dagger to their chest.
Shizu & Rin in unison: “O-Hera, Queen of Olympus, protector of bonds. Great Hera whose presence honors any adventurer, whose favour empowers the faithful, I pray to you, O goddess, grant me strength to deal my enemy a critical blow. Shinning Hera, I ask your blessing.”
Upon completing the recitation of their prayers, their aura was unleased and intensified as a link was created between the two. Their purple aura was infused with green particles, emitting an overbearing energy even from afar.
Asta: “Avy, they have activated their faith. We should as well.”
However, before Avy could reply, Shizu was seen charging straight on towards the pair, encapsulated by her strong aura. Asta was expecting Shizu to tear down the now weakened wall as she closed up to it. Much to his surprise, the wall remained firmly in place but traces of her disappeared instead.
Asta quickly glanced over to track Rin’s movement, but noticed a ball of smoke in place of her physical form and she too was no where to be found. The cavern was dead silent. When he looked over at Avy, he too had vanished from sight!
All of a sudden, Asta was gripped by a sharp stinging pain in his abdomen.
He tilted his head downwards only to see a dagger firmly etched within his stomach and blood oozing out of it. Almost immediately, he felt the muscles on his back tear apart and his nerves severed into pieces.
Asta let out an anguish cry as the physical pain from the slash on his back was too much for him to bear.
He dropped his staff and fell to his knee. He tried to support himself up but realized he lost his senses from waist down.
Asta scanned his surroundings but there was no human figure within his immediate field of vision.
Asta traced Avy’s scream to its source only to find Avy in the distance, at Rin’s original spot.
That was when Asta finally realized what happened.
“Both Shizu and Rin activated their skill. Rin is a Rogue of the shadow class. Her skill “Fade into the Shadow” allowed her to swap her position with Avy and make herself invisible. Shizu kept my focus on her by charging at me but activated her skill “100 Crimson Slash” which granted her invisibility. Her disappearance was aimed at first distracting me such that Rin can switch position with Avy undetected. Once next to me, Rin can deal me a weakening blow before Shizu slash me on the back and inflict stun on me.
What a well thought out and executed plan. As expected of a Valiant…” Asta thought to himself.
Avy was consumed with rage after he saw how the shadow duo brutally mutilate his comrade.
Avy screamed at the top of his lungs and shot a magic sphere out from the barrels of his revolvers into the air. The magic sphere floated towards the space in front of Asta and exploded. Magical bullets pelted down hard like hail in a snow storm, each bullet magically enchanted to inflict sleep status. Rin was caught in the attack and after being swamped by the volley of gunfire, her invisibility wore off and she stumbled before letting out a large yawn while crouching on the floor and eventually fell asleep.
Although Shizu was caught in the firing region and her invisibility wore off, she seemed to be unaffected by the effects of Avy’s skill attack.
From where he stood, Avy saw Shizu and her eyes were cold blooded, hollow and filled with murderous intent, a stark contrast to her usual fiery passionate eyes. With a single hand, Shizu threw her Nether Blade at Avy. Positioned at such a distance away, one would expect to be able to dodge the attack easily. But much to Avy’s surprise, he did not have any time to react and the blade pierced him around his left collar bone with immense force, pinning him to the wall behind.
Avy coughed out blood and screamed in agony. He dropped his revolvers to the ground and attempted to remove the sword with both his hands, but to no avail.
Avy mumbled to himself: “So this is the strength of a Valiant eh…the gap between us is…. hahah…”
Shizu turned around to face Asta and picked him up by his collar with one hand while pressing her dagger on his neck with the other. Shizu looked into Asta with a soulless chilling gaze as if possessed by the spirit of a serial killer.
Shizu: “Looks like I may have overestimated your abilities. Any last words?”
Asta could barely keep his eyes opened let alone summon enough breath for a reply, but upon seeing a blurred yet familiar silhouette behind Shizu, Asta smiled weakly.
Shizu snapped out of her killer mode after noticing Asta’s smile. She threw Asta on the ground and spun around immediately as she sensed the dark presence looming behind her.
Baron conjured a teleportation spell which enveloped Shizu. Light around Shizu bound themselves into a squarish dimension, forming a cage. Shizu was initially alarmed at Baron’s counterattack but after registering the fact, she attempted to break out of the light barrier surrounding her. However hard she slashed at the beams of light, she was unable to undo the spell due to the fact that it has already developed and progressed into its final stage.
“Just you wait! I will be right back to capture all of you!!”
Shizu snubbed at Baron just as the final beams of light closes in on her and transport her to an unknown location, some distance away.
Baron rushed over to Avy and helped him out of his predicament. Avy was critically wounded but his injuries were not fatal. The both of them then checked on Asta.
Asta was lying nearly lifeless on the ground. However, he could still make out vaguely the exchange between Baron and Avy.
Baron: “He is on the verge of death. An Assassin always kills. To be hit by a Valiant Assassin’s skill in its full form…it is already a miracle he is still alive…”
Avy: “Isn’t there any way he can be saved??”
Baron: “Your human medicine and technology will not save him. Besides, you are all now wanted by the capitol and will be hunted for. Fugitives will not get treated for their injuries…”
Avy: “Can’t you do anything to save him?? I mean to say you survived and managed to recover after receiving a similar attack from the same person…”
Baron: “Indeed, a devil is able to recover quickly using our demonic herbs, but they are only useable by our kind…unless…Oh...yes… I see… There might actually be a chance for him…”
A thought came to Baron’s mind. He bent down and supported Asta into a pseudo sitting position.
Baron: “Astaroth, Listen to me carefully.
You are now fatally injured and may die at any moment.
However, you can be saved at some expense.
In order to survive, you will need to use demonic herbs for recovery.
For that to happen, you must give up all the holy magic within you and embrace the growing demonic essence inside of you.
In doing so, you shall lose your ability to utilize holy magic in all its forms and along with it, memories and emotions that encompasses the inherent goodness within you.
You will not forget anyone, but you will forget how you loved another.
The dark motivations and energies within you such as hatred and revenge shall remain and would instead be nurtured.
I cannot conduct the necessary ritual unless you give a verbal consent…”
At this juncture, Asta felt as if his soul was about to leave his body completely as his heartrate slowed down tremendously. While he pondered over Baron’s words, a bead of tear trickle down his cheek.
Asta saw Baron and Avy in panic seconds before his vision blurred to a wall of grey, forcing him to shut his eyes completely. Beautiful scenes of Asta’s playing with his friends in the capitol and the times when he watched Theia secretly, were projected onto the inside of his eyelids, just as how movies are projected on a cinema screen. Soon enough, Asta could no longer hear his own breathing and the thumping sound of his heart gradually came to a complete halt.
To be continued…