Chapter 69

“Hey. These aren’t done yet?” a fairy with purple hair asked as she hovered above four writhing humans. She turned towards the fairy next to her, who looked like an identical twin except for her green hair.

“Ah. We were short three worms, so I split one into four,” she said and scratched her head. “Logistics error higher up in the chain, it’s not our fault.” She shrugged.

“Ehhhh.” The other fairy grumbled and pouted. “That means we have to wait here for another twelve hours. I’m going to go check on the two primaries. Maybe they’ll be ready.”

“I checked on them yesterday. They still haven’t converted,” the green-haired fairy said and grabbed the other fairy’s ankle before she could fly away.

“Still?” she asked as she leaned back and sat on the air. “It’s been almost a decade.”

“Yeah, well their birthflower’s gone missing a few centuries ago,” the green-haired fairy said and crossed her arms. “It’s not too surprising that the process is taking forever.”

An orange-haired fairy flew into the cave from above. “What’s taking so long?” she asked. She saw the squirming humans. “Oh. Did you misplace the worms again?” She turned towards the green-haired fairy.

“It wasn’t me this time!” the green-haired fairy said while pouting.

“Ah, whatever. I don’t want to track them down,” the orange-haired fairy said as she yawned and sat next to them. “The queen’s too busy to notice. What’s a few missing worms anyway? We can let the tertiaries handle it.”

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A guard marched through the streets. He looked up at the sun and sighed. Just a few more hours and I can go watch the competition with my kids, he thought. It’ll probably be over by then. Man, no one would dare to rob the noble’s houses anyway. Why am I here? He hung his head and dragged his feet through the empty streets. A sobbing sound caught his attention and he looked up while facing towards an alley.

He saw a girl who was leaning against a wall while hugging her shoulders. She was hunched over and her body shook as strangled sobbing noises escaped through her lips. “Hey!” the guard called out and started walking towards the alley. “Are you alright?”

The girl continued to shake as her face snapped towards him. Her eyes were snake-like and shifting in colors. “Aren’t you that warrior girl? Stella?” he asked as he walked next to her. “Did something happen at the competition?”

He put his hand on her shoulder. “Ah, right. You had to fight the prince. It’s understandable to be scared after that,” the guard said and sighed while shaking his head. “But isn’t it too early for t-. Eh?” He looked at Stella and watched his hand fall off her shoulder, along with his arm. He looked at his shoulder and saw blood gushing out of his now residual limb. He shrieked and fell backwards, clutching the stump where his arm used to be. A red blur shot out of his severed arm towards his face. It stopped before it collided with him and a worm wriggled in front of his nose.

Stella chuckled as she grabbed the other end of the worm with her left hand. A hole, leaking black liquid, could be seen on her forearm. Her right hand held a sword that dripped with the guard’s blood. “So that’s why I felt like I was losing control,” she said as she lifted the worm above her and ripped its head off with her teeth before swallowing. She continued to consume the remainder of the worm in a similar fashion. “Naughty little worm. Splitting yourself in half to try to overtake my body,” she said as she smiled at her belly. She turned towards the guard who stared at her with wide eyes.

“I think you’ve seen too much,” she said and smiled at him. “You did help me though. Promise me you won’t say anything?”

The guard nodded his head as tears formed in his eyes. “I didn’t see anything,” he said as his voice quavered. “I swear. My arm just fell off on its own.”

A crunching noise echoed through the alley. “Too bad,” Stella sang. “I don’t trust humans.” She smacked her lips and smiled. “I should go play with the prince before they disqualify me. Wouldn’t want to be late.” She left the alley while licking the blood off her sword, oblivious to the two worm-sized holes left in the wall behind her.

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Rudolph stood at the center of the stone arena with his arms across his chest. Johann laid on the grass behind him. The referee stood outside of the stage, looking at the sundial on the ground.

“She probably ran away,” someone from the spectator seats said and grumbled.

“Just move on to the next match,” another person said. “We all know who’s going to win anyway.”

“Stella still has two minutes to show up before she automatically forfeits the match,” the referee said, ignoring the murmurs from the crowd.

“I’m here. I’m here,” a voice called out. “I just needed to get a snack before the match.” Stella walked onto the stage.

Rudolph frowned. “Are you injured?” he asked, staring at her foot. It was covered in blood.

“Ah,” Stella said and smiled as a strand of saliva leaked from her lips. “I must’ve stepped on a tomato in the market place. I’m perfectly fine.” Her figure blurred and she appeared in front of Rudolph, staring into his eyes. “See?”

Rudolph’s eyes widened as he took a step back. Stella giggled as she took a step forward. “Why don’t you call your dragon onto the stage?” she asked as she took another step forward.

The referee cleared his throat. “Fighters to their positions please,” he said.

Stella grinned and sauntered back to her side of the arena. “I’m telling you now,” she said. “If you don’t call him up now, you won’t have a chance to later.”

Rudolph narrowed his eyes. “We’ll see about that,” he said and equipped his sword and shield.

“The first person to force the other person to surrender or renders the other incapable of surrendering wins. Soul destroying techniques are forbidden and violators will be punished by death,” the referee said. “Begin!”

“You aren’t going to draw your sword?” Rudolph asked as he raised his eyebrow. Stella’s body blurred.

“Don’t need it,” she said from behind him as she launched him forward with a punch. Johann let out a roar as his back flashed with a green light. Rudolph tumbled through the air as he struggled to orient his body. Stella appeared above him with one leg raised. She whipped it downwards and her heel smashed into Rudolph’s back like an axe, sending him straight into the floor. The floor around his body cracked and a green ripple of light flowed through his body. Johann let out another roar and scrambled onto the stage as a two green marks shone on his back and belly.

Rudolph snorted as he lifted himself off the ground. There wasn’t a single scratch on his body. “That all you got?” he asked as he sneered.

Stella cocked her head to the side. “Sturdy aren’t you?” she asked. “I wonder what would happen if I killed your dragon first.” She smirked and dashed towards Johann, her body turning into a blur. Johann swung his paw outwards and smacked Stella head-on. She flew backwards and rolled a few times before standing back up. A thin line of blood trickled through a cracked scale on Johann’s claw. Stella coughed out a wad of coagulated blood, containing miniscule green orbs, into her hand and dashed at Johann.

Once again, Johann deflected Stella with the same motion and Stella repeated her tumble before climbing to her feet. Rudolph and Johann closed in on her from her left and right sides. She ran two steps towards Johann before changing directions towards Rudolph. She kneed him in the head before he or Johann could react. Rudolph fell onto his back and Stella stomped onto his nose, but she was unable to leave a mark. A green light flashed on Johann’s snout and he bellowed while lunging towards Stella. Stella spat on Rudolph’s face. “Coward.”

She raised both her hands up. “I surrender,” she said and kicked Rudolph towards the charging Johann. Johann dug his claws into the ground and caught Rudolph with his mouth before glaring at Stella, who stuck her tongue out at him. The spectators, who had been silent since the first punch, broke out into a commotion.

“The prince won, but it feels like he lost…”

“What was that speed?”

“Honey, you should recruit her as a bodyguard.”

Stella whirled around on her heels and stepped off the stage. Her body blurred and she disappeared before the referee even announced her loss.

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A student sat on a balcony holding a cup of tea in his hand, with his greatsword propped up against the banister. His metal helmet rested on the hilt. If I were in Rudolph’s position, he thought and shuddered. He shook his head. No point thinking about it. She’s out of the contest.

“Hello, Trent,” a feminine voice said from behind him.

He stiffened and whirled around. “You,” he said with wide-eyes and glanced at the arena before turning back towards the girl. “Weren’t you just there?”

“I was,” Stella said and stepped forward. “And now I’m here.” She placed her hand under the student’s chin and tilted his head up. “Let me borrow your body for a bit,” she whispered and locked lips with him. His eyes widened before he relaxed and lifted his hand to her face while moving his left hand to her waist. His body stiffened mid motion and his eyes shook in their sockets as his body started to thrash.

Stella collapsed on top of the twitching student. His eyes closed and a shudder ran through his body. When he opened his eyes again, they were serpentine and swirling with a myriad of colors. He stood up and wore the helmet that was on the sword, lowering the visor. He snapped his fingers and a black fire enveloped Stella’s body. A few moments passed and only an ashy residue remained.

 

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