A swift figure streaked across the sky, and then, a black steed landed on the deck of a flying ship, its eyes burning with crimson light. The stallion had a coat that was as black as night, two horns of adamantine metal, and fangs that resembled those of a wolf.
On its back rode a graceful knight clad in onyx armor, the scarlet blade of her odachi matching two ruby lights shining behind the visor of her closed helmet. Without pause, the dark rider sent her steed forward, and her sword flashed, beheading the nearest warrior of the Sun Legion in one smooth strike.
The other Awakened froze for a moment, suddenly grasped by a cold feeling of dread.
And as fear crawled into their hearts, the terrifying crimson flames burning in the eyes of the tenebrous stallion ignited even brighter. It moved its head, biting into the neck of another soldier and tearing it wide open. More blood flowed onto the deck...
On another ship, the soldiers suddenly screamed and aimed their bows up as a massive shadow suddenly covered the deck.
But they were too late.
As a gale of wind raised by mighty wings threw some of them off their feet, a repulsive creature crashed into the deck. It resembled a giant lion with the head of a raven, its body gaunt and entirely black. The creature had two powerful hind legs and six limbs protruding from its wide chest, each ending with a set of long talons.
Lean muscles were rolling under its skin like worms, and its terrifying beak was open, revealing rows of sharp, needle-like fangs and a long tongue. Both the fangs and the tongue were of the same black color as the rest of the abominable monstrosity.
Using the momentary shock of the warriors, the Soul Serpent, who had assumed the form of a Spire Messenger, reached out with its six arms and sliced six bodies apart with its talons. Blood sprayed into the air, and a chilling, ghastly wail escaped from its beak.
…And lastly, on the stern of yet another ship, a towering devil wearing black armor simply appeared out of the shadow, silently and without anyone noticing him for a split second.
That one second was enough for a bolt of lightning to fly off his bow and hit a warrior in red armor that had been preparing to pull the lever of a ballista on the bow of the ship. Instantly, arcs of furious radiance chained to a dozen nearest soldiers, killing several, burning a few, and stunning the rest.
Dismissing Morgan's Warbow, Sunny dashed forward and brandished the Cruel Sight, as well as the austere tachi he held in the other two of his four hands. He knew that his time was short… yes, Sunny was powerful, and so were his Shadows. But when the defenders of the Ivory City recovered from the initial shock, they were going to show that each of them was an Awakened, too.
And then, who knew how long he would be able to survive?
The first thing to do was to cut off the head of the snake…
Ramming into a tall soldier with his shoulder, Sunny sent him flying away and raised the Midnight Shard for a devastating downward slash. The captain of the ship — a grey-haired man with a noble face and a thick beard — reacted too fast, throwing his own sword up to block the attack.
However, the tachi never came down… if Sunny really wanted to attack it with it, he would have never telegraphed his strike so clearly. Instead, the Cruel Sight shot forward from below, piercing the captain through the chest. Infused with divine flame, it easily went through his armor and flesh, killing the man on the spot.
The Warmonger only had time to look at Sunny with eyes clouded by pain… and smile happily. Then, he fell down like a tree that had been cut down by an axe.
The captain was dead, which would make things easier for Sunny. However, there were still dozens of Awakened warriors on the deck of the ship, now fully aware of his presence and clamoring to spill his blood. Sunny had fought plenty of Solvane's followers in the Red Colosseum, and knew very well how skilled and powerful they were.
He was not sure of his ability to survive a battle against that many, especially now that he had no shadows augmenting his body.
Three of them were with Saint, Serpent, and Nightmare, and the fourth one lay on the bloodied deck behind him to serve as his eyes. With the enemy possessing such a terrible numeric advantage, he judged that being aware of his surroundings would be more useful than a bit of physical might.
…Regardless, Sunny was not going to fight them all unless he absolutely had to.
Throwing the captain's corpse out of his way with a powerful kick, Sunny dashed forward… and grabbed one of the steering oars the man had been holding.
He might not have known how to fly a ship, but from watching Noctis and Cassie do it, he at least knew how to crash one.
As the Shadow Lantern appeared on his belt and devoured all light nearby, thus hiding him in a cloud of darkness and making it harder for the archers to hit him, Sunny pulled the steering oar all the way to the right.
Slowly, the flying ship started to turn left, going off course and breaking formation.
A few arrows zipped past Sunny, one bouncing off his helmet and throwing his head back. He could see ten or so of the closest Warmongers already running at him, and further back, even more rushing to join their comrades. Those who had been stunned by the Strike of Thunder were coming to their senses, as well.
Forced to keep the oar in place and thus immobilized, he gritted his teeth and threw the Cruel Sight as a javelin, aiming to kill the nearest of the approaching enemies. However, his spear simply froze in the air, as if the attackers were surrounded by an invisible barrier.
In the next moment, a ball of furious light invaded the cloud of darkness that protected him, dimming somewhat, but not disappearing instantly.
That was the problem with fighting against Awakened… every one of them had an Aspect, and each Aspect was unique, making them excruciatingly unpredictable and hard to deal with.
As more arrows were aimed at his head, Sunny cursed, let go of the oar… and dissolved into shadows.
Left with no one to hold it in place, the steering oar returned to its natural position.
...But the damage was already done.
Before anyone could get to it, the flying ship careened… and rammed straight into the side of another one, piercing it with the metal beak of the forward ram and wedging itself deep into the allied vessel.
Both ships were heavily damaged by the collision, but the situation was still not unsalvageable. If an experienced captain acted with haste, at least one, or maybe even both vessels could be saved.
…But before that could happen, a four-armed demon suddenly appeared from the shadows on the stern of the rammed ship.
And a few moments later, its captain was dead, too.
Just like that, Sunny had doomed two ships and a hundred souls to death with two strikes of his weapons.
He glanced into the night sky for a moment and groaned.
'Just ninety-something or so left... great!'
A muffled, mad laugh suddenly escaped from his lips.
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