Austen tries an uppercut from the right side, while Darkmore ducks; at the same time Haze goes with a club swing from the left, which Darkmore counters by elbowing between Haze’s hands, cutting his momentum. The 2 squad captains attack Darkmore simultaneously from both sides, only to discover it was an afterimage. Darkmore reappears behind Schwatz and has his right arm equipped with red armor and as he was about to punch, Haze defends Schwatz with his club, breaking it into pieces.
-Damn it! He broke your stupid bat, now what?
Darkmore seemed displeased. Haze starts to gather more Essentia than before, looking back to Schwatz.
-I didn’t show any of you my true ability, this match isn’t over yet. Follow me. – says Haze- “Metal Resonance: Magnet”
Haze uses his essentia ability to control his metal club fragments, channeling essentia to each fragment and uses them to attack Darkmore, who activates a red spherical barrier around him. As the barrier forms, Schwatz stretches his arms and grabs Darkmore’s collarbone and pulls him out of the barrier before she closes completely; the remaining soldiers would reuse the transfer essentia again and fire a new Essentia ray towards Darkmore. He could repel the grab of Schwatz but not in time to avoid the lightning, causing an explosion. As smoke clears out, a red beam is projected against the soldiers, making them unconscious. Darkmore is injured on his right arm.
-We finally got him – smiles a fatigued Austen, falling into his knees.
-Yeah, but we are the only 2 persons still standing, and I can’t gather enough Essentia for more than 2 attacks. – says Haze with his right arm injured, and bleeding from his head. He looks to Darkmore and shivers- And now that monster is really pissed.
-It’s days like this that I think I should rethink my life. -jokes Austen.
At the same time, Darkmore exhales and starts gathering an even bigger Essentia orb.
-It’s time to wrap this up, I can’t waste more time here. -declared a gasping Darkmore, coughing up blood - «Blood Breath: Burnout Bo- -»
Before Darkmore could launch other attack, he is sniped by a lightning shot on his left shoulder, making him disperse his attack. He drops on his knees, covering his new wound.
From the busted gate appears the 1st squad, leaded by Cosmo Gibbon [Essentia Ability: Arsenal]. His ability makes it possible to turn any object on a random weapon. The 1st squad returned from the Sleeping Forest battlefield to backup Asmund. This squad is known for its cold and precise Commander orders; Commander Gibbon seems detached from emotions, and all his men are known for following his commands without fail.
-Cough, cough, cough… I’m getting to old for this- announces Darkmore as he flinches because of the pain.
Haze and Schwatz walk towards the injured man. Schwatz grabs Darkmore’s right leg and throws him in the air with his long arm, catching him in the air and smashing him again and again against the ground, like he was a broken doll.
-That’s enough, Austen. It’s time to finish this. – orders Gibbon with a cold gaze.
Schwatz seems annoyed for dropping Darkmore on the ground, who is clearly hurt. Nevertheless, he smiles sarcastically knowing that Darkmore’s end is near, even though he hates Gibbon and his boring orders.
-You’re so grown up, little Cosmo. I still remember you learning how to control Weapon Essentia Force with Lowther. I thought that you would take his steps. I guess I was wrong hehehe cough, cough. -says Darkmore trying to catch a breath.
Cosmo seems unfazed.
-You do not respect the world’s order; I could not follow you. See where you end up: The Oath Legion was destroyed; all your friends were killed or are being hunt down. All that for following Maddox and his crazy ideas…-says Cosmo while unsheathing his sword – Do you not regret it, not even one bit?
Darkmore coughs up blood. His face is sad.
-It’s true, I lost everything that matter to me. My oldest friends are dead, the guild that we made to have a place where we all belong was abolished, the people who believed in what we were doing are being persecuted…all because of our ambition.
-I will end your suffering, for the old time’s sake – says Cosmo imbedding his essentia to his sword.
-But you know, I do not regret the choices made. Even if I have to die here, there will always be someone who’ll take Maddox’s will and try to make it right what is wrong. I hope that someday you’ll understand that. My only regret is that I could not save the last one.
-Goodbye, Luther. Your era has finally come to an end. – says Cosmo lifting his sword.
Darkmore looks resigned with his death. As Cosmo is about to strike him, big metal chunks pierce his body. He drops his sword and as he looks back, Haze condenses a big metal orb and squash it down on Cosmo; as he takes Cosmo out of picture, Cosmo’s men quickly get on fighting stance. All the present Asmund’s guards are against Haze.
-Is this a joke, Moltz? What the hell do you think you’re doing? – asks a shocked Austen – Are you crazy?
Haze seems unfazed by the reaction of Austen, and walks in front of Darkmore, ready to protect him.
-Old fart, leave. You have to finish what you have started.
Haze turns over to Austen, pointing his left index finger. His look became even more serious.
-Austen, you’re a prick. I don’t have to give you any explanation, you creep; I have my reasons to do this. You use your power to bully the ones that are weaker than you. I know what I am doing means to defy the world government, but I already made my choice. – Haze starts remaking his bat on his hand, with his ability.
-Now you’re showing your true colors, huh? I know that you were not Nation material ever since I met you. – replies Austen.
Darkmore starts to get up. He inhales and smiles.
-Maybe it’s not my time to die, huh? You’re right, I still have something to finish.
-Old man, don’t die on me. We still have a score to settle between us, this scar will continue to tingle until I get my revenge. – says Holtz as he finishes recreating his metal bat again. – With this we’re even. We will meet up again.
-Kid, if we get out of this one, you can count on it. – promises Darkmore as he gathers essentia to flee, while Haze and Austen face each other.
As they prepare for battle, the large metal orb that was drop down implodes, revealing an angry Cosmo injured across his body, with his vest torn apart.
-I hope you’re prepared to suffer, Haze. I will carve you a brand new scar to make you remember this moment. Death is too good for you; I will take you to Stormford. -says Cosmo as he gets his sword engulfed in essentia- but first I will kill that old men and end this, as planned. – he proceeds to blast the condensed essentia slash towards Darkmore.
Just before the attack reached Darkmore, Haze cut off the attack with his bat.
– You old fart, get going!
-Thank you, kid. I hope you can get out of this too. I promise I will return to help you when I can. – says Darkmore as he proceeds to disappear from the scene, leaving a dark red Essentia fainted trace.
- Now us, Commander Haze. It’s time for your punishment for going against the Nation orders. – declares Cosmo as he summons dual blades, with every 1st squad member and Austen by his side.
Haze breathed in. He knew that his winning chances were practically null, but it was his choice, so he was in peace with himself. He points his bat to the remaining Asmund troops.
-You should live the way you want, and trust in what you believe. I don’t have any regrets for what I’ve done since the day I was born and if I have to die facing you, so be it. – Haze dashes to confront them with a devious smile, covering his bat with all his remaining essentia -Let’s do this.
As the fight between Haze and the rest of Nation forces happens, Darkmore would flee to Asmund’s night shadows. He arrives to Asmund City’s slum, entering in a decaying house. He travels across multiples rooms, where there were homeless people everywhere you looked. He senses the Essentia leak and traces the source of it. He enters the room stepping on broken glass and passes a youngster with golden hair and dirty scruffy clothes who seemed asleep and had been leaking Essentia too, but he was not who he was looking for. A little further down the aisle there was another kid, covered in rag sheets and trembling. The kid was sweating and mumbling, but in contrast Darkmore seemed pleased to have find the boy.
-It was difficult, but finally I found you, the last one. Here we go.
Darkmore begins emitting his essentia from his hand, above the little boy’s head, similar what he did to the previous girl in Thartan. The boy started convulsing and screaming as Darkmore was continuing to push Essentia. A dark aura appears surrounding the little boy, and violent essentia waves start emitting from him. Darkmore seemed worried and tried his best to not let the kid die, he couldn’t fail now: the fate of the world depended on it.
«Huh? What’s happening? It seems that this boy has an abnormal essentia center. Even if I try to resolve the same way as the other six, this boy’s body can’t take the essentia. Was this a bust? »
-Jax? Are you ok? -the golden hair kid rubs his eyes as he heard agony screams, just as he notices Darkmore - Who are you?! What are you doing to my brother?
Darkmore continues to try saving the boy without paying any attention to the other kid, however the blonde one started to gather essentia on his right arm, revealing an angry expression on his golden eyes.
-What are you doing to my little brother? Get away from him! You are not going to harm him, no one will – says the golden hair kid, as his arm starts to get dark blue, and the essentia forms an icy flower – “Ice Lotus”.
«Well, well, well. We’ve got some young talent right here, huh? This world is full of surprises, but I don’t have time to deal with this now. »
Darkmore smiles, as he forms a red barrier around him and the sick kid to prevent any interference. The other kid launches his attack, which strikes against the barrier. Although it seemed that it was pointless, the blonde kid would not stop trying to get to his little brother no matter what. As consequence of his stubbornness, his arm was starting to get frostbitten.
-Let go of him! AAAAAAH!
The blonde as he concentrates even more power on his attack resulting in an increase of power, and the frostbitten to extend along his body and neck. The barrier starts to crack.
-You brat, don’t you see you’re harming yourself?! You can get cripple! Cough, cough – says Darkmore, as he tries to calm down the angry boy.
-I don’t care, I will protect Jax!
-…Leo don’t– whispers Jax, as he opens his eyes, revealing a rare violet color.
Suddenly the essentia that was being transmitted by Darkmore suddenly changes color, turning red into dark blue.
«What?! It couldn’t be! This boy possesses an essentia crippled center, how can he be doing this? I am sure that I am not wrong about it. Unless…no, it can’t be. The world’s fate is really exciting. »
-Sir, I will let you do whatever you want with me but stop Leo before he gets his essentia center destroyed. - pleads the boy named Jax.
-...Fine, youth is always a pain in the ass. Just lay down and take deep breaths.
Darkmore gets a serious look on his face and bites his right thumb, starting to bleed from it and slides the blood on his palm.
“Blood Contract: Boost”
Luther extends his right arm in Leo’s direction, where his barrier gets reinforced and blows away the boy. Leo as he is pushed, unconsciously releases his essentia power and drops on the floor panting. His Essentia is completely dissipated, and his arms start to darken up from the frostbite.
-Please, leave him alone. He’s suffered so much already, if you have to harm someone, harm me I don’t care- says Leo crying.
Darkmore sighs as he returns to fully concentrate his essentia to Jax.
-You reckless brat! Don’t you see I’m trying to save him? Cough, cough
-It’s alright Leo, he’s speaking the truth, I feel better. Don’t you worry – says Jax trying to smile – Sir, can you heal my brother? Half of his body seems frostbitten from his Essentia overuse. Heal him please.
-Do you think I could do that? That was his own carelessness. I can’t treat other’s physical injuries; I don’t have that power, I’m not a fucking healer.
-But you are healing me. – says Jax.
-Jax, don’t you worry about me, this is just a scratch. – says Leo clearly in pain – but please fix him up, old man.
-Old man?! You brats are a pain in the ass, I’ll give you that, hehehe- says Darkmore while scratching his head. – Kid lay down and drink this- from his coat, Darkmore takes a small flask with a green, fluorescent fluid- It will ease the pain and open the essentia channels that you clog.
Leo drinks the potion, instantly feels how bad it tastes- bleurgh, this has a really bad taste! Are you sure you are not poisoning me? - the frostbitten starts to wear off, as he complains about it – Jax, look! It’s working!
-Thank you, mister. – says Jax more relaxed now, but sweating and convulsing from his own condition.
-Don’t worry about that. Do you know your body’s condition boy?
-Yeah, unlike my genius brother I can’t use Essentia without hurting myself. As I start to gather it, my body collapse, I have a broken essentia center. It’s so frustrating I want to help my brother, but I’m so useless.
- It’s true, your brother can be considered a genius being able to use his Essentia ability to this extent at such a young age, even though he is so reckless. But do you really think that you’re useless? I think you might possess even more potential than that icy brat, it’s just that your body can’t handle it yet. It’s a long shot, but it might be worth it to explore it: you can be someone who can change the world.
-I don’t care about that. Right now I’m being a burden for Leo. He could try to enter one of the big guilds or even create his own group. He always talks about travel across the globe and live adventures just like Rengar, the great. We always talk about how we would step into every continent, learn about every culture, and make a safe space for people like us who were thrown away by the Nation. But instead he’s taking care of me, a damn defected ragdoll. I’m sick of it, hold him down this much – says a sorrowful Jax while tears run out from his eyes.
Leo puts his forehead against Jax’s forehead and grins.
-There’s no reason for you to think about that, you are my ‘lil bro. You’ll never be a burden Jax!
Darkmore’s face draws a sadness smile, as he looks to Leo nostalgic.
«He resembles M a lot… I see the same stubborn and rebellious spirit on this kid. I’ll do everything in my power to easy up their turbulent journey, as my own journey is ending. No matter the cost »
Darkmore starts generating more essentia and all of a sudden, he stabs Jax on his chest.