Out there in the sky, the silver disk of the moon was slowly being devoured by darkness, as if drowning in a vast and impenetrable shadow. One of its edges was already gone, and with each moment, more and more of it was being erased by the shadows. It looked…
Like an eclipse.
Noctis paled, and at the same time, Sunny suddenly felt reinvigorated. It was as though every shadow in the world had just become deeper and darker, and as one of them, he did, too. The feeling was strange and euphoric.
But Sunny knew that this eclipse was an ill omen for all of them.
Turning to the sorcerer, he asked:
"What is going on?"
Noctis stared at the disappearing moon with a dark expression, and then shivered.
"I… I guess Sevras had a trick of his own up his sleeve. I did not expect him to get his hands on a piece of Shadow's domain, though… how is this even possible?"
Seeing a lost expression on the sorcerer's face, Sunny growled:
"How severe is your Flaw? How weak are you going to be when the moon is fully gone? What do we do now?!"
The fleet of the Ivory City was still closing the distance to obliterate them, so there was no time to waste. They had a few moments before the clash, at best. He had to know what was going on…
Noctis glanced at the dimming moon for one more second, then turned away and sighed.
A pale smile appeared on his lips.
"...Do you guys remember how I told you that I will take care of both Solvane and Sun Prince while you distract their armies?"
The sorcerer's smile grew wider, a mad glint appearing in his eyes.
"Change of plans! You will have to keep the Prince busy for a bit, too. I, uh… will try to deal with Solvane. Best of luck to you, my friends! And to me, as well…"
With that, he stepped out of the magical circle and gestured for Cassie to grab the oars, which she hurriedly did. A moment later, Noctis was already standing on the bort of the ship, his raven black hair dancing in the wind.
Sunny opened his eyes wide and screamed:
"Wait! How the hell are we supposed to keep a Transcendent busy?!"
The sorcerer threw a quick glance over his shoulder and laughed.
"I don't know! Figure something out… try to stab him with my knife, maybe? No, stabbing that steel behemoth won't do anything…"
With that, he simply took a step forward and fell down, disappearing in the darkness and the howling wind without a trace.
Just like that, Noctis was gone.
Sunny stared at the empty space where the sorcerer had been just a moment ago with a stunned expression. His momentary stupor was broken by Cassie's shout:
"Sunny! There are only a few seconds left! What do we do?!"
The blind girl was controlling the flying ship, desperately trying to right its course so that it wouldn't take the full brunt of the armada's siege weapons all at once. Sunny had no idea how she was able to fly the ancient vessel without being able to see, and it did not matter right now. He hesitated for a moment, then turned away and let out a resentful growl.
"We follow the plan. Nothing really changed…"
Effie raised the Dusk Shard and asked, her voice grim:
"What about the big bastard?"
Sunny gritted his teeth.
"Last I checked, that monstrosity cannot fly. As long as we stay in the air, we should be fine…"
Cassie pushed one of the oars down, then frowned. Her voice sounded hesitant:
"But how do we stop him from going after Noctis?"
He looked at her, then cursed.
"No idea! Shoot him with the damned bolt thrower! The big one!"
With that, Sunny left the blind girl behind and rushed forward.
The enemy ships were already close… close enough for him to feel shadows dancing on their decks.
Which meant that it was time for him, Effie, and Kai to join the fight…
A large fleet was closing in on a swift vessel, its formation in a mess because of the fourteen ghastly stone abominations wreaking havoc on the flying ships. Each of the massive gargoyles bore the soul of a vile Corrupted creature, so their might and ferocity were terrifying — not entirely on par with the original fiends that Noctis had slain, but close to it.
And yet, they alone were not enough. In fact, the fourteen gargoyles were merely a distraction.
The main strike was yet to come.
As the graceful ship came within range of the fleet's siege weapons, it dove down, and at the same time, several figures jumped off its deck into the air.
A few moments later, the air was suddenly filled with the smell of blood.
The captain of one of the vessels shouted something, pointing upward. Then, however, he swayed and fell down, his neck pierced by an arrow. At the same time, something fell from above… it was a young girl carrying a heavy round shield. Just above her, a man in a charred wooden mask hovered in the air, already drawing the string of his bow once again.
Effie, who had been tossed down by Kai, hit the deck of the ship, slid on the Dusk Shard for a moment, then rolled and jumped to her feet, the runic spear in her hand glowing with an angry red light. That shine only grew brighter when the spear pierced a man's chest and was painted with crimson blood.
As another Awakened toppled over with a scream, struck down by an arrow. Effie twisted and shook her spear, throwing the corpse of her first victim at the rushing enemies. Her shield flashed, its rim crushing someone's chest. Then, an enemy blade fell from above, landing on her shoulder… and bounced off her skin, not leaving behind even a scratch.
A split second later, the attacker was already dead, and the young girl continued her slaughter, fighting like a demon released from the depths of hell… like a perfect vessel of war.
There were only two pupils of the Red Sect left alive in the whole world, after all. One of them was Solvane…
And the other was here on the ship, killing Solvane's followers one after another with a feral grin on her childish face.
If warriors on the other vessels of the fleet could have seen what was happening, they would have felt lucky to be safe from the little beast and her guardian's deadly arrows…
But their relief would have been misplaced. Because the young warrior and the flying archer were not the only ones boarding the flying ships.
Much more terrifying than them…
Were the coming shadows.
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