29.0 Grayscale_Chapter 7: Graphite

Everything passed by in a blur.

Mountains, lakes, plains and rivers whizzed by, painting the world beneath us in streaks of colors. But the world above stayed the same; a dark sky stretching endlessly into the distance.

Flames twirled around us, licking and dancing all over our bodies without burning them. They weren’t hot either, but warm and maybe even comfortable.

The winds whistled by, filling my ears with a roaring sound that made my head hurt. My eyes were watering but I barely managed to make out Runir mouthing something to Amy.

She seemed to have heard him since the colorful streaks vanished and my heart went up my throat as we plummeted to the ground.

Debris fell everywhere as we crashed into the rocky ground. Amy let go of me and I fell to the ground, dizzy and exhausted.

“What is it?” asked Amy, unfazed by the crazy ride.

“W-wait a second.” said Runir, holding his head. He took out some water from his Storage and drank it. “That’s better.”

“Why did you make me stop here? We need to hurry. Kai is fighting that thing alone right now!” Amy said, tapping her foot on the ground.

“Well, I’m sure the Fire Goddess wouldn’t take kindly to a meteor crashing into her shrine. We might just get blasted out of the sky. Besides, I’ve already made a plan using my Ability but for it to work, we need to sneak in without anyone noticing.” said Runir.

“A plan? Care to elaborate?” asked Amy.

“No. For some reason, my Ability explicitly told me that revealing the plan would be a bad idea but trust me, it’s our best shot at beating that masked freak.” he replied, calmly.

I stood up. “Either you’re lying because you don’t want us to know or your plan is so fucked up that we’d never agree to it if you told us. And I don’t know which is worse.” I said.

“The lava fields should be a little further ahead. We better hurry, Kai can’t hold that thing off forever.” he said, running up the mountain trail.

Damn it Kai, you better hold on till we get that fucking goddess. I thought, as I rushed after him.

Soon, my clothes were soaked in sweat as the air became hotter. The rocks were darker here and crumbled more easily.

“Fuck. Why can’t we use magic to cool this shit up again?” I asked, panting.

“Because we have to conserve our mana.” Runir said, wiping the seat from his brow.

The lava appeared soon enough.

Liquid rock goo…gotta say, lava is pretty disappointing. I thought, as we finally reached the lava fields.

“Right, now we just have to change into our bathing suits.” Runir smirked as he took something out of his Storage.

“Stop messing around.” I said, sternly.

“Fine, fine. Just hold on to- what’s that?” he said, squinting his eyes.

I heard it too. It sounded like someone was…crying? It seemed to be coming from a figure standing beside a large rock. Whoever it was, they were standing right between us and the lava fields so we’d bump into them for sure.

As we got closer, I noticed that it was a little girl wearing dirty brown rags and a scarf. Her face was buried in the hems of her tattered robes as she sobbed into them. I exchanged a glance with Runir, could we afford to stop?

“…stupid fire goddess…daddy he…and mommy…big brother too…” the girl wailed, her words broken and full of pain.

I felt a sharp pain in my chest and noticed Amy looking just as concerned. Was this kid abandoned or were her parents killed? Either way, she wouldn’t be able to survive here for long.

But we couldn’t afford to stop when Kai was fighting for his life! But we couldn’t leave a little kid out here all alone could we?

Surprisingly the one who resolved the issue was the cold hearted bastard.

“Oi kid!” he shouted as we reached her.

The girl froze and raised her head.

But Runir suddenly grabbed her by the armpits and carried her along. “Wanna go for a dip?”

We jumped into the lava, making sure to stay inside the red glow coming from the red orb in Runir’s hand. The girl was clinging onto Runir’s robed, with her eyes shut tightly.

Surprisingly, the lava was pretty solid. We didn’t sink in too deep and managed to wade through it pretty quickly. Soon, a large red wall appeared in front of us.

“Shit, how do we get inside the gates?” I asked.

“There should be a back entrance somewhere.” said Runir, frowning.

“There!” Amy said, pointing to a small metal grating near the bottom of the wall. It was the opening to a sewage pipe that led into the lava fields. After all, what better way to get rid of shit than to dump it into molten lava?

I kicked it open and we ran inside, ignoring the disgusting stench around us.

“How do we get to the Goddess?” I asked, using the ‘Illuminate’ spell to light our way.

Runir replied through a pinched nose.“She’s probably at the top of the tower. We need to sneak in undetected and-”

“W-who are you guys!” asked the little girl who finally snapped out of her daze.

“Shush, kid. We’ll drop you off at the shrine. I’m sure they’ll let you clean the dishes or something.” said Runir, still carrying the girl with him as we reached the end of the pipe.

We cautiously checked if anyone was around and jumped out.

“…the shrine maiden called for an emergency meeting…” said a voice from behind a wall.

“What does that old hag want us to do now? Lick her feet?” said another, sharply.

“Shut it, you have to come and you know it.”

“Yeah yeah, just let me grab my stuff.”

We quickly ran back inside the pipe as the sound of footsteps grew nearer. A pretty red haired girl walked by, pouting as she stomped away. As the footsteps faded away, we ran out of the pipe again.

“Here.” I said, tossing some robes at the other three.

“Good work.” said Runir, like he’d expected me to steal the priestesses robes from her Storage.

The little girl stared at the red robes in her hands and spread them in front of her.

“Wear them quickly.” Runir said, wearing the robes over his clothes. The rest of us did the same as we moved out of the shadows and calmly walked through the courtyard.

But the whole place was empty.

Were they all at that meeting the red haired priestess was talking about?

Whatever, it’ll be easier to get to the tower now. Just hold on for a little longer Kai…

The tower was an imposing sight, with the pitch black sky making its crimson stones look even cooler. But this wasn’t the time to be admiring architecture.

“Now we just have to go to the top. Amy could you-” Runir began, but stopped as he noticed the flames flickering around Amy. “What are you doing?”

“You’re safe now. Just stay here, I’m sure the priests will take care of you but try not to destroy the place while I’m gone.” she said, gathering more flames around her.

“What the fuck are you doing Amy?” I hissed.

“I’m going to help Kai,” she said, crouching down and preparing to blast off.

“Wait! My Ability says that we need you to take us to the top of the tower. I know you want to help Kai, but this is the best help you can give him. We need the Fire Goddess’ help but that can only work if you follow the plan!” said Runir, tersely.

“Hey, what are you doing?” came a shout from behind us.


A brown haired priest was running towards us.

“Amy!” Runir shouted.

Amy looked at him and shot off the ground.

The ground trembled and the tower shook as the sound of shattering glass reverberated through the air.

Something crashed into the top of the tower, sending debris falling onto the ground. Runir quickly shielded the little girl who was trembling in fear.

“Urgh, knocked me all the way here did you? Well, guess the hot-springs here must be divine. Should wash away all that crankiness.” said a familiar voice from above.

A dark-robed figure appeared over the shrine, glaring at the scampering priests below.

Fuck, he’s here! Wait, this is a good thing. The Goddess can- oh shit! Didn’t Kai just smash into her room?

“Judging by the dust in this room, I guess the Goddess hasn’t been here for a long time. Oh well, more fun for me I guess.” said Kai as he floated into the air and smiled.

“Why do you not die?” asked the creepy black masked ‘god.’

“Don’t want you feeling lonely, is all.” replied the idiot wearing a smiling white mask.

Origin snorted and a wave of violet flames crashed into Kai.

“Trying to burn my clothes off? Pervert.” said Kai, laughing while waving his hand.

The flames were blown out like candles but Origin was already preparing his next attack. A huge violet fireball floated above his head, with purple flames swirling around inside it.

I heard a loud crash as Amy jumped off the ground and slashed at him. But just like last time, it passed right through him.

Shit, she’s too close!

Everything seemed to slow down. The freaking purple sun, the pathetically flailing Amy, the stupidly smirking Kai and the asshole with a circle fetish. Everything slowed down-even me.

Origin’s hands slowly grabbed Amy’s ankles and he flung her at the tower. She smashed straight through it and crashed into the ground.

The fireball flew at Kai, so slow that I was sure he’d dodge it easily but he was still laughing and didn’t notice it until it was right in front of him.

Runir fired a spell at the masked pervert, but it faded before reaching him causing Runir to stare it with a half opened mouth.

The fireball exploded as it hit Kai, sending shock-waves of energy rippling through the sky. I fell to my knees and covered my ears, trying to get the awful ringing sound out of my head.

Gritting my teeth, I saw Runir on the ground in the same situation as me. Amy had managed to make her way back to the battle before she fell to her knees because of the blast. Kai had been smashed into the ground, making a deep person shaped hole in the sacred shrine’s red tiled courtyard.

Hope they had insurance. I quipped, biting my lips to endure the pain in my head.

The masked asshole was still floating in the air, looking down on us from above.

“Stay down. I do not wish to destroy my creations.” he said.

“You? You’re Fate?” Amy growled as she shook off the effects of the blast.

“That is one of my names here, yes.” he replied.

Amy looked at him with a strange glint in her eye. She smiled widely, something I’d never seen her to before.

It made me shudder.

“Oh, I’m going to enjoy this.” she snarled, illusory armor appearing on her body. A bright red light shone around her as a vortex of flames erupted on the ground. Her eyes became scarlet as she roared at Origin.

She jumped at him and fired a series of fireballs.

“Pitiful. Stop struggling child.” he said, swatting them aside.

But those were just distractions.

Amy spread her arms and shouted, “Inferno!”

A circle of flames appeared around Origin, trapping him inside. I couldn’t make out his expression under the mask but I was sure he was frowning. This was a level 6 spell after all, and it could do some serious damage.

But that’s only if it hits.

Origin dropped from the sky just as the circle of flames erupted into a flickering scarlet vortex. But just as he touched the ground, Amy smiled.

“Magma Cannon!” she shouted, as a dark red ball of lava flew through the air towards Origin.

The magma cannon hit him squarely in the chest, sending him flying. Amy didn’t stop though. She kept firing Magma Cannons like a machine gun, pummeling Origin through several buildings.

Amy’s face flickered and she turned her head sharply to the side.

And got punched straight in the face.

She flew through the air and fell on the ground with a large crash. Origin stood next to where she’d been standing seconds ago, his hand stretched out in front of him. He brought it back to his side and stared at us.

Or rather, he stared at me.

Shit! I cursed inwardly as I pulled out my sword and shield. Bright lights started flashing around me as I activated my Hero Ability- Sacri Lumine.

I felt a rush of power and my mind cleared up completely, letting me focus on what I really needed to do: kick this bastard’s nuts!

I charged at him, seeing everything in slow motion again.

My sword arced down straight at his neck. His eyes didn’t widen at all, and he didn’t show any other reaction either.

This could work! I could do this!

For a few seconds, I actually believed it. And then I felt the air get pushed out of my lungs and a piercing pain in my chest as I flew through the air and crashed into a wall.

I lay there for a long time, vision too blurry to make out anything. The pain was nearly overwhelming, driving me dangerously close to unconsciousness, but I managed to hang on.

Slowly, the blurry images began taking shape.

Kai was back up again, smiling at Origin like he’d just told some fucked up joke.

“Just for the record, that mask is tacky as hell.” he said.

Origin waved his hand again, sending a wave of flames crashing towards Kai.

“This again? Is your battle sense as bad as your fashion sense?” he said, waving his hand and blowing out the flames like before.

But those were just distractions.

A violet ball of fire smashed into him from behind, sending him tumbling across the ground and into the wall of the tower.

I looked around us.

The ground was full of holes, cracks and scorch marks. Some of the buildings had collapsed, adding to the debris from the ruined tower.

Amy still lay on the ground, groaning. Runir was stuck in a wall and mumbling something, probably smashed into it when I was about to black out.

Stones shifted and I saw a tiny head pop out of the rubble.

Shit! The girl!

Sure enough, I saw her walk out of the debris and brush off the dust on her robes. Surprisingly, she didn’t look injured at all.

She turned around and looked into the hole in the wall, her face showing no traces of the whimpering girl from before.

Her purple scarf fell off her neck and curled itself in her arms.


The rubble shifted and Kai walked out of the man sized hole in the wall.

“Hello, Kai.” said the girl, expressionlessly.

Kai sighed and then smiled.

“Hi, headache.”


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