Lita Septenia was the young wife of an up-and-coming merchant who had recently established his trading company office right next to the majestic Hyacin River.
For the past three years, Lita had followed a familiar routine every morning. She diligently assisted the maids in cleaning the upper floors of the building, which served as the family's living quarters, while the lower levels were occupied by offices and storerooms.
However, Lita's most cherished moment of the day arrived when she stepped out onto the balcony. Standing tall, it provided a breathtaking view of the entire city. Just beneath it, the torrential Hyacin River rushed swiftly towards the nearby lake, whose shimmering surface reflected the midday sun of early spring.
Clutching bed-sheets in her hands, Lita approached a sturdy string stretched across the spacious balcony, positioned at a height of nine Eiru (roughly 1.80 meters) above the impeccably swept tiled floor. She took a deep breath, relishing the refreshing breeze that descended from the nearby mountains, and immersed herself in the sight of the city below.
From her advantageous vantage point, Lita's gaze spanned the entire width of the Old Middle District, directly unfolding before her. To her left, the Imperial Hills—another district running parallel to the Upper District—boasted some of the city's oldest mansions, their grandeur shimmering in striking contrast.
On her right, however, lay the imposing fortifications housing the military training grounds and barracks of the National Army. These structures, adorned in deep shades of gray and black, seemed to absorb the sunlight rather than reflect it.
The wind carried a coolness that refreshed the air, and the joyful songs of birds filled Lita's ears. As she stood there, a sense of serenity enveloped her, interrupted only by the presence of a man with pale blonde hair who appeared to be flying alongside her balcony, wielding a sword in one hand and a hook and chain in the other.
That was the only thing that went through her mind, incapable of even reacting, as the mysterious stranger passed by her balcony faster than the thought of reacting flourished inside of her mind.
The Beast Blade, launched by his comrade, flew in a perfect arc, first over the fence and a couple of buildings and soon over the river, approaching the fleeing barge.
-Bloody Cataclysm! This bastard doesn’t give up, doesn’t he?- Rixa Serico exclaimed, shocked upon noticing the approaching Callis, thanks to Novus’ shocked shout.
The Elder Serico Sister pulled out the Scripti Weapon aiming directly at the incoming Beast Blade, ready to blow him out of the air and into the water.
But Callis, even while falling, was able to notice the Arcane Device, thanks to the light being reflected from the Cibus tip.
He already saw the effects of the weapon before and this time around he was ready to avoid it.
The Beast Blade shattered his aerodynamic pose with a swift, full spin, managing to temporarily slow his descent for a fraction of a second. However, that brief respite proved to be more than sufficient for him.
Displaying an impressive show of strength, he snapped his arm with the fluidity of a whip, propelling the hooked end of the Laudoi that he had acquired from one of the henchmen defeated by Alexa. With precise aim and timing, he managed to secure the hook onto the side of the barge. Pulling with all his might, he altered the trajectory of his fall, successfully evading the powerful gust of wind unleashed by Rixa's weapon.
He expertly landed on the sturdy wooden railing encircling the barge, effortlessly releasing the hook with a deft twist of his wrist and skillfully retrieving it back into his grasp. He stood poised and ready, prepared to engage in a fierce confrontation with the formidable Serico Sisters.
In the meantime, Novus took advantage of the temporary distraction caused by the Beast Blade's daring maneuver. He managed to regain his footing and began scanning the area in search of his staff. However, as his gaze extended beyond the edge of the barge, he suddenly realized the perilous predicament he was in, causing him to freeze in place.
-That was quite the display, but it won't save you from going overboard.- Rixa taunted, her weapon aimed perilously close to the Beast Blade's face.
-The only thing that will sink into the depths will be this barge if you recklessly discharge that weapon anywhere other than upwards,- Callis interjected swiftly, his voice filled with unwavering conviction. Amidst the chaotic battle and the surge of adrenaline coursing through his veins like a stampede of wild horses, there was no room for doubt or hesitation.
-Let me handle him, sis!" Lis Serico's voice thundered with unwavering passion as she readied her weapons and charged towards the Beast Blade.
Exhibiting acrobatic prowess that rivaled Callis himself, Lis effortlessly leaped onto the barge's handrail, swiftly traversing the narrow, curved surface with remarkable speed. She transformed into a whirlwind of motion, unleashing a flurry of powerful strikes and precise slashes aimed directly at the Ensis.
The resounding clash of metal against metal reverberated across the river as Callis and Lis engaged in a breathtaking display of high-speed combat.
Their movements were a dance of offense and defense, with the younger Serico sibling favoring low angled attacks executed with intricate angular trajectories.
Meanwhile, the Beast Blade moved with the grace of a billowing flag caught in a gust of wind, deftly spinning and turning as he skillfully parried Lis's direct assaults.
The deadly dance of dazzling blades unfolded before the mesmerized eyes of the barge's crew, who were responsible for steering the vessel.
Unable to tear their gazes away, they were entranced by the awe-inspiring spectacle of martial prowess unfolding before them.
The clashes of weapons were executed with such lightning speed that their impacts melded together, creating a singular harmonious sound.
It was a symphony of steel, a concerto of violence, with two formidable soloists engaged in a fierce duel, each striving to silence the other permanently.
Their clash was a testament to their skill and determination, as they danced across the stage of battle, in this case, the narrow wooden banister surrounding the barge.
While the rest of her crew was taken aback by the enthralling scene, Rixa wasn’t, as unlike them, she had witnessed countless rounds of this relentless conflict over the years.
Despite her familiarity, she remained on the sidelines, knowing that a misplaced strike could prove fatal.
She understood that her sister did not possess a realistic chance of defeating Callis; her role was merely to stall him. The countless rounds Rixa had observed typically ended with Lis being defeated or the Serico Sisters narrowly escaping their dire predicament.
In the midst of the relentless clash, the question of escape loomed over Rixa's mind. The reality was that achieving a direct victory seemed impossible. However, a glimmer of hope emerged as she recalled a hidden card up her sleeve.
Frantically scanning her surroundings, Rixa's eyes widened with realization that Novus held the key to her triumph. She needed to remove him from the board, and with Callis likely to follow suit, victory would be within her grasp.
-Where is that little shit?- she whispered to herself out loud, as her thoughts were drowned out by the deafening symphony of clashing blades engulfing the barge. Despite the chaos, Rixa's determination remained unwavering.
Finally, her keen gaze locked onto Novus' hiding spot. The young Arcanist had sought refuge between two stolen boxes, desperately attempting to distance himself from the edges of the barge. Panic etched across his features.
"Bingo," Rixa thought triumphantly as she swiftly moved towards Novus, her heart pounding with anticipation. She hoped that her plan would work, for she knew that time was running out for her sister, Lis, even without needing to look in her direction.