In the crater atop Mt. Etna, a black fire rotated like a giant whirlpool. Within its center, were the disintegrating remains of a giant Black Dragon and a young man. The black flame was slowly rotating around him as it steadily approached and climbed his body. His eyes were closed, his fists were clenched, his jaw was taut, his face was pale, and his body shook from pain.
The black fire’s path left charred clothing and trails of burnt flesh similar to the path a drop of water would take. Moreover, this fire also carried the essence of destruction, which left a small grove in his flesh that did not bleed as it cauterized the wounds.
If anyone else were here, they would’ve tried to leave long ago. However, for Marty, leaving was not an option. Besides the terms of the deal, he was no longer able to leave. Within his body, a battle was raging. Two souls, a white and a black, clashed against each other. Thanks to Artoria’s guidance, Marty had some control over his soul. Typically, the soul would take a form similar to Ki. The Soul Core would be in the center and a flame, typically white that would emanate from it. However, with Marty’s current control, his soul could take his body’s form, and he could control it. Currently, he was fighting a black soul.
The soul was Nidhogg’s, and it was bizarre. It was neither Dragon, nor human, but seemed to be some combination of the two. The details of the soul could not be made out as they clashed again and again. Marty’s white soul started to become dimmer and dimmer. However, this wasn’t the only battle going on.
Within Marty’s Soul Core, another battle between two souls raged. A golden soul and silver soul clashed repeatedly.
“Yami! Why are you preventing me?” Artoria asked with her golden soul.
“Now is not the time.”
“What do you mean!” Artoria shouted as she charged at her again. However, this time, a trace of black came from the silver, and Yami’s strike was much more potent.
Artoria’s face changed to shock as she pointed at Yami. “You.”
“Even with the two of us, there is no guarantee we can win. Without a positive turn of events, I have no intention of acting. Moreover, he is only fighting hard. He has not realized it yet, but he is only close to his limit. If he doesn’t fight with everything he has, he will never break that limit, and we will never win.”
Artoria looked at Yami with a dark expression. “Fine. I will appear at the last second, but you better not stop me.”
Yami shrugged. “The strength of your soul can suppress me, but you are far too weak to defeat me with it. Rest assured I will not get in your way.”
Artoria glared at Yami before she went back to focus on the fight between Nidhogg and Marty.
Yami also focused her attention on their fight. [If you want to break Fate, the only way is to exceed your limit. If you don’t succeed, this time… This time I will die with you.]
Marty had finally given up. The pain he was feeling was too much to bear, and he finally gave in and called Cali. It was cruel of him to force her to do this, he knew. However, he also knew there was no one else capable; no one he trusted more to do this cruel task. His bloodshot eyes, one black one red, looked at the position he knew she would appear. When he did so, he went from shock to fear as Cali wasn’t the only one who appeared. Morgan, Shiro, Caelia, Shalgana, Lucibelle, Yutsuki, Miyuki, Kuromi, and Freyja at all appeared together.
“Marty!” “Martel!” “Anata!” “Husband!” They shouted when they saw the terrible state he was in before they screamed, moaned, and grimaced in pain. The black flame whirlpool wounded them as they began to feel the same pain Marty felt as their skin and flesh began to burn, carved by fire and destruction.
[No!] Marty shouted in his mind as his mouth could not move. His black and red eyes began to carry traces of gold as he struggled with everything he had. Flashes of Shiba’s memories rushed through his mind as if a prophecy of their deaths.
“You jerk! You owe me! You said we were a family! If you die, I will not forgive you!” Morgan shouted before a white flame came out of her chest, and she fell beneath the black fire.
[No!] Marty thought in fear as unwillingness overcame him.
“You can’t die. I haven’t had your baby yet.” Shiro said with a beautiful smile as a white flame came from her chest, and she too collapsed beneath the black fire.
“Thank you for saving my father, and now it’s my turn to save you,” Caelia said as a white flame left her chest, and she fell beneath the black fire.
“We didn’t have much time together, nor were we very affectionate. I do not know if you love me, but I want to tell you that it was my honor and joy to be able to call you husband. Even if only for a short while, I was happy.” Shalgana said as a white flame left her chest, and she fell beneath the black fire.
“I was never a fan of tragic love stories, but I’m glad you are my prince charming; my black knight,” Lucibelle said as a white flame left her chest, and she fell beneath the black fire.
“Onii-sama, you saved my life, and now it’s my turn to save yours,” Yutsuki said as a white flame left her chest, and she fell beneath the black fire.
“Anata, if I am going to die again, so long as we are together, I’m satisfied,” Miyuki said before a white flame left her chest, and she fell beneath the black fire.
“Master, I know you don’t prefer I address you as such, but in my heart, you will always be the man I looked up to. The man I knew cared for me. I would do anything for you.” Kuromi said before a white flame left her chest, and she fell beneath the black fire.
[No!] Marty thought as tears streamed down his cheeks. As they disappeared one by one couldn’t help but wonder if this was Fate; that they were destined to die this day. Only Cali and Freyja could be seen as Cali was protecting Freyja while they made their way to him.
He saw the tears in Cali’s eyes as she gathered the white flames from the other girls. It entered her body, and her bangs from the center turned white. This whiteness went down both sides and the full length of the front of her hair. “I don’t want you to die. I want to be with you, always.” She said as the combined white flame exited her chest, and her disintegrating body fell beneath the black fire.
Freyja, with the mass of white flames now in her palm, had finally reached him. He watched in horror as the black flame surrounding them gave her terrible wounds and pain. The slight grimace in her smile showed that she was trying so desperately to insist. Like him, she would do anything, even sacrifice her own life, for the one she loved. She reached up and kissed his lips, obtaining that which she wanted when she woke from death’s edge. “Come back to me, My Hero.” She said as a white flame left her chest, and she fell beneath the black fire.
Marty’s heart was broken into many pieces. He was alone, again. Only the weight of Freyja’s body on his feet confirmed the terrible truth that what had just occurred was not a dream. Hatred consumed him. He hated his weakness. He hated this Fate that seemed intent on taking the ones he loved from him.
[Curse my weakness! Curse you Nidhogg! And curse Fate! I refuse! I refuse! I will become stronger! I will kill Nidhogg! I WILL BREAK THIS ACCURSED FATE!] With an internal roar, the slight gold in Marty’s eyes elongated, and his soul started to show traces of gold. He struck out against Nidhogg again, but it still was not enough. Then, the white flame, given to him by his beloveds, entered his glabella.
Marty’s eyes shot wide open as the white flame impacted his soul. He struck with this energy and blew away the destruction of Nidhogg’s soul. Nidhogg reeled back in pain as Marty pressed his offensive. With every strike, Nidhogg’s soul became weaker, and Marty gained more confidence. His eyes and soul began to change to a golden color.
The moment his eyes became completely golden, he regained his movement. He looked up to the sky and gave a loud roar; a roar that did not allow defiance; a roar that defied Fate. In that instant, the black whirlpool slowed before it began to turn in the opposite direction as Nidhogg lost its sovereignty over it and Marty took control.
The white flame that wrapped around Marty’s soul manifested itself on his body before his wounds noticeably started to heal. Like a hungry beast, the white flame seemed to consume and devour the black flame as it turned white and siphoned into Marty. Nothing could be seen below the flame, but his eyes became brighter as the occasional movement at his feet gave him hope that not all was lost.
Marty’s soul that was now a pale gold and wrapped in white flame began to take the upper hand with Nidhogg, but only by a little. While it appeared to be in Marty’s favor, the battle was yet to finish. Still unused to utilizing his soul and sudden power he found himself with, he left himself open. Nidhogg did not let this chance go by and struck down at him with what would have been guaranteed to hit, but a golden fist suddenly appeared from Marty Soul Core and destroyed Nidhogg’s entire arm. At the same time, a silver arm suddenly stabbed like a knife through Nidhogg, damaging its Soul Core.
Nidhogg roared in absolute agony, momentarily stunned by the massive loss. Marty did not let this chance go to waste, and he focused all of his strength, their strength. With a roar, he struck Nidhogg’s skull, and it instantly dispersed. The rest of Nidhogg’s body quickly began to crack and split apart. A silver hand suddenly shot out and grasped Nidhogg’s Soul Core before it retreated.
Marty didn’t complain as he did not have any idea how to use the Soul Core. As Nidhogg’s soul began to disperse, he felt some of its energy enter his own as his soul stiffened. However, he did not bask in the feeling for long as his attention soon went back to his body. Soon, he saw all of the girls. To his relief, they were all stirring. Their clothing was noticeably tattered and burned, but no wounds could be seen on their bodies. The white flame seemed to have healed any damage done.
Marty took a deep breath and relaxed as he realized just how wary he was. The high tension and stress had zapped him about almost all of his energy. He had enough soft materials in his space ring to make makeshift pillows, so he gently rested Freyja before he went to gather the other girls who were passed out. He double-checked their bodies and was relieved to find that they were completely healthy. It was about this time their eyes opened. When they saw Marty, they smiled.
“Is it over?” Miyuki asked.
“Did we win, or are we in heaven?”
“Can’t you tell?”
“Where you are is heaven,” Miyuki cheekily replied.
Marty laughed and was soon joined by the other girls who were relieved that everyone was alive. Soon, the laughter began to die down as they realized that Marty was acting strangely. He was looking at them, but not at their eyes, and his vision was split among them. It took a couple of seconds, but they finally realized what he was looking at; their clothing, or rather, lack thereof. Their faces became bright red, and they covered their bodies… Most of them.
“Pervert!” Morgan shouted.
Marty laughed at the several embarrassed girls who punched him out of shame before he laid down, exhausted. The girls all joined in a giant group hug, and they soon fell asleep with their makeshift bedding. All of them hoped that when they woke up, the dream would never end.
Marty opened his eyes within his inner world. There he found Artoria and Yami. Artoria was smiling at him while Yami had Nidhogg’s Soul Core in her hands.
“You fought well,” Artoria said.
“Many thanks for the help.”
“It was worth it,” Yami replied before she swallowed Nidhogg’s Soul Core.
Marty was surprised but didn’t ask as he wasn’t sure he could win without their assistance. The soul core was a small price to pay.
Yami looked at Marty. There was an ever small trace of happiness and pride in her eyes, but the cold and cunning was still overwhelmed by it. She gave a big smile. “I suppose I should congratulate you, Breaker of Fate.”