104 – ???? ??? – Checkmate
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The Goddess jumped out of her chair, her eyes wide open.

The Nameless One placed a piece in the center of the gameboard, smiling. “I win.”

An impossible result. The pieces that she carefully laid out, the traps she placed, the moves that should have been impossible to prevent.

All of them were void. Moot.

Against all odds, the pieces had changed. White turned to black- No, even the pieces that didn’t were turned against her.

The Goddess shook her head. “That’s… impossible.” Suddenly, her form distorted, turning into Aria- No, a woman that looked like Aria. “Impossible!” She glared at me and said, “I refuse to accept this! I won’t accept this!”

The Nameless One shrugged, crossing his arms and kicking back in his chair. “Too bad. I didn’t make the deal with you, Celeste.”

“You arrogant bastard!” Celeste held out her hand, summoning the Sword of Mana.

Or, she tried to.

“Kuh! What is… this…!?”

Golden chains, wrapped around her body. Black threads, wrapped around her right arm and neck. Crimson threads, wrapped around her left arm.

Celeste scowled and tugged on the chains, trying to pull herself loose.

The Nameless One stood up and said, “Really now, for a supposedly manipulative goddess, you should have thought things through a bit more. Or did you think that karma was something that you could take lightly?”

“You…!”

The Nameless One- No. ‘Nowun’ grinned and said, “That’s right. Me.” He walked over to Celeste and then smiled. “You must have thought you were smart using your relationship with Serena and hers with Aria to reclaim your Authority. Unfortunately for you…” He pulled out a ring and placed it on the table. “My ties with those girls are much stronger than yours.”

She glanced at the table and then her eyes widened. Afterwards, she turned to look at Nowun in disbelief. “That’s… impossible. You are-“

“Go fuck yourself, you jealous goddess.”

Saying that, Nowun stabbed his right hand into Celeste’s chest and ripped something out. A glowing orb, shining with iridescent light.

When that happened, the chains and strings binding her vanished. At the same time, light flickered across her body and she fell over. Before she crashed into the ground, Nowun grabbed her.

Celeste was no more, and the game they played was finished. Not only that, but because Nowun had taken away the divine powers, all that was left on the ground was an ordinary young woman.

But she wasn’t Aria.

While she looked the same, there were slight differences. Her face wasn’t quite as sharp, her eyes a bit more rounded, Oriental. And then there were her ears, rounded like an ordinary human’s rather than an elf’s.

Nowun sighed and gently rested her back on the ground. That done, he stood up and glanced back at the board. Specifically, he stared at the piece he placed down on the board.

An ordinary young man with an average face and black hair.

There were two others across the board that looked similar, one wreathed in dark shadows surrounded by two elves and a dragon with the other in a martial artist’s robe standing beside an Oriental beauty.

But unlike them, he wore regular clothes. A plain dress shirt and jeans. Fairly well-dressed, but an ordinary outfit that wouldn’t look out of place on the streets of Earth.

Nowun shook his head and then walked off. As he did, he raised his right hand and said, “I’ll leave it to you to finish things up here. After all, you’re the one she was waiting for. Isn’t that right? Mister-“

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