[27] Surprise
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Lara De. Frag took a step forward as she laughed, and Claire recognized that the mana surrounding her was compressing and vibrating below her feet at a frequency that allowed her to walk on water. No, she was running.

She charged towards the barrage of ice blades.

They seemed endless.

But, the half-dragonian skidded against the ocean floor, dragging her greatsword with a single hand.

"Is this all? That's weaker than I thought you were!"

She slashed her blade.

A wave of crimson exploded across the air, shattering ice into mere shards.

"Oh?" Claire raised a brow with a mild chuckle.

It didn't matter whether the girl could destroy everything in her wake. It didn't matter if the girl thought her attacks merely a nuisance at the moment. Nothing of such insignificance mattered. Within Claire Hill's realm, within the world she controlled, she had an infinite supply of water and ice, and no need to waste her mana. Everything came to her beck and call with naught but a thought on her part.

Essentially, if Claire was overpowered in the outside world, she was invincible here.

She snapped her finger and water rose.

As fast as Lara could move, she wasn't instantaneous.

"What the—?"

A wave devoured the girl and dragged her down before she could put voice to her thoughts.

Claire looked down at the figure descending into the depths of her ocean, being carried deeper through her own thoughts. "Did you think I would play fair against someone as idiotic as you?"

She tapped her feet and a wave rose, bringing the girl back up before freezing in mid-march.

She stared at the enraged face within, snow fluttering about her, then raised a finger.

Ice sliced itself from the ocean and ascended into the sky.

She glanced up as the thing pierced through the clouds of her realm.

"Shatter."

A whistle filled her ears.

She watched an object break through the clouds, descending.

Then.

It slammed against the surface of the ocean, shaking and rumbling her world.

Claire folded her arms and watched as the small waves mellowed back to calm. She watched as Lara De. Frag stood back up like nothing, crimson mana flaring about her scaled figure. Shards of ice caught up and fell around the half-dragon who looked unscattered by her fall. Simply put, she wasn't damaged.

"Alright." The girl pierced her weapon into the ocean and grinned, raising a hand to the eyepatch upon her right eye. "I'll get serious for once in this game."

Game? Claire raised a brow. What nonsense was this girl spouting?

The black patch lifted to reveal a pure, crimson eye.

Her mana exploded forward. At least, as far as the eye of the girl could see, everything was dyed in a hue of crimson.

Every flake of ice slowed down to a crawl. Claire's eye moved about as she tried to lower her arms only to find herself moving at a speed even a snail could surpass.

She looked forward to see the girl grip her weapon, then take a step forward, then another, and soon she was running towards her, dragging her weapon across an ocean whose drops of water fell slowly. Behind that being, everything was moving at its normal rate, but in front of her crimson glance, everything was crawling.

Before she could even blink, Claire found the blade of a great sword slashing down to meet her head.

"Everything in front of my right eye slows down," The girl smirked from her swing, "Isn't that fun?"

Even in her slowed state, Claire was entirely unimpressed by the attack.

Her body flickered and an ocean exploded with a crimson blast, the splash slowly rising at a pace that looked as if it was frozen in time.

"Huh?" Lara De. Frag felt a cold touch against the back of her head as a force slammed into her.

She blinked her eyes, figure flying through the air, wondering what had just happened.

"Thanks for the explanation," The voice of the girl she was fighting rang, "However, did you think I would be incapable of dodging simply because I'm slowed?"

Claire kicked, connecting her boot with the back of the person's head.

An explosive force resounded as the girl before her flew once more.

Claire's form flickered, replaced by a snowflake.

She appeared behind the hurtling girl and grasped her head.

"So you can slow things, congratulations."

She slammed that face into the ground, ice shattering.

"But, in my world, my speed doesn't matter."

She still had the ability to change places with any piece of ice or water she summoned. In this realm, all she had to do was call upon a flake of snow and it was counted as 'summoned'—though it would cost mana to actually switch, but the amount was abysmal enough to last her a very, very, long time.

Unless her reaction time was slower than her opponent, or her foe moved at instantaneous speed, she couldn't be touched if she didn't wish to be. Yet the girl's ability merely slowed her body.

She grabbed the half-dragon's blonde hair and stared into her crimson eye. Lara's face was scrunched into one of rage, anger boiled, and Claire was certain she had rightly pissed the girl off.

"So," She spoke as she appeared behind her, "Have you learned your lesson yet?"

The girl jumped up.

"I'll fucking kill you!"

Crimson mana exploded and a pair of scaled wings sprouted.

Sighing, Claire looked at that sight with mild interest, the distance between them widening as the ocean increased in size.

"Are you becoming 'serious' again?" She joked.

Then.

A voice rang in her ears.

[Legend of the Dragon Slayer, Third Chapter, 'I'm a Hero!']

[She faced that chilling figure, that Ice Queen with hair of white and an aura that froze all. . .]

Claire's mind froze for a moment before she realized what it meant. She raised a brow, somewhat shocked, and looked at the half-dragon before her. This person was a hero and she herself was the hurdle to overcome?

"This is mildly interesting," Claire spoke with a hint of curiosity, "What happens when I defeat you?"

"No hero's ever lost within their chapter!" Lara's figure disappeared.

A streak of crimson shuddered through the space, lightning crackling and flying above the ocean. Clearly, she had gotten faster.

Claire smiled as her figure flickered. "As I don't plan on losing, count yourself the first instance."

A slash fell and the world was dyed crimson.

Then.

Everything exploded.

Water evaporated into nothing along with fluttering snow and the clouds. Eclipsing that, however, the atmosphere in front of the enraged half-dragon's weapon was now a featureless black void of nothingness.

Lara De. Frag had, quite simply, ripped apart space with pure force, the ocean falling off an edge that once was not there and into nothing.

Claire squinted at the girl, a meter behind her.

"Oh, you really did become more serious," The Ice Queen said, "You're worse than Coldren. What is this, your third form?"

"Stop running!" Lara De. Frag screamed, head swerving back, enraged that even her increased speed couldn't keep up with Claire's <Switch>.

Claire shook her head.

"Look up."

"What the hell are you on abou—?" Noticing a shadow covering the realm, the half-dragon chanced to glance upward.

Her lips hung open.

Claire's figure disappeared.

A meteor of ice—a size eclipsing everything as far as the eye could see—dropped upon the half-dragon, sinking into the ocean as water splashed into the atmosphere and the world rumbled.

Yes. I did take about a week off of writing. There was a notice on my profile.

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