book 2 chapter 37
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We really couldn’t wait until summer to do this? Hecatolite asked as Amethyst stood across from her father in the snow. 

“Are you both ready?” Taaffeite called over the empty field as the two tensed. 

Amethyst readied herself as she prepared to call her sword from its pocket dimension, Understanding enough about her father's fighting style to hold off on summoning it.

The snow around Alastair began to melt as he pulled his massive sword from his hip, a rush of hot air coating the clearing as he stood with sword at his side, not bothering to take up a stance as smoke started to rise from his body.

The clearing was silent as Taaffeite raised her hand high into the air, no one dared speak as she prepared to start the duel. 

Everyone present held their breath as they watched the tiny Amethyst stand across from the smoking giant Alastair. Alexa standing next to her mother, Hans and his wife Belvine along with their adventuring party, all present to watch what would mark as the final part of Amethyst’s training before being allowed to challenge the world. 

Alastair had insisted on one more test for his daughter before he would allow them to leave, a sparring match to ease his own mind before his daughters left on their journey. Wishing to see exactly how far she had come, he insisted that she come at him with everything she had. As such, Taaffeite had barred them from fighting within the city walls knowing full well how much damage two mages could cause.

No, it has to be now. We spent too much time training. Amethyst replied to Hecatolite’s complaints as she dug her feet into the snow. Given their plan was to leave right after their birthday which normally followed right after the melting snow and the beginning of spring meaning this would be the final chance Amethyst had to put her father’s mind at ease.

Alexa had begrudgingly come to act as a healer for the fight. She did not agree with the idea of her sister and father fighting at full power but could not talk either of them out of it. Belvine, once hearing of the duel, had come out to officiate it as a “guild” sparring match, secretly intended to raise Amethyst’s rank again depending on her performance in this fight. Hans had said it was his job as guard captain to be sure the two overpowered mages didn’t level the entire area, being that was a possibility with Alastair, no one questioned him; though he really wished to see how Amethyst’s training had progressed as the youngest daughter of his closest friend as well as to the family he had sworn to; he felt responsible for Amethyst if anything were to happen. Her adventuring party came out of pure curiosity, they knew Amethyst’s fighting style having been with her as she developed during quests for the guild, they however, did not know how well it would hold up against the dragon slayer Alastair.

“Begin!” Taaffeite's voice rang out like a gunshot through the cold air. 

Amethyst charged her father, “Babylon!” A terminal appeared before her as she ran, its protest fell on deaf ears as she pressed it forward towards her laughing father, using its size to completely conceal herself as she summoned her sword into her hands.

“Not a bad plan.” Alastair’s voice rang out as he lifted his sword, “but,” flames erupted from his hands as he swung the sword at the terminal, with the sound of shattering glass, his sword cleaved the terminal in two, revealing an empty space in the snow. Amethyst footprints ending nearly 2 yards away.

Alastair barely dodged the sword strike that came from his side, Amethyst’s sword flashing into existence before vanishing again as it passed inches from his exposed arms. 

He swung a massive fist towards the strike only to be met with the sound of a whip crack and open air as Amethyst vanished again. 

“I see,” He couldn’t contain his grin as she appeared on his other side, her hands still outstretched from the strike before. 

She quickly adjusted herself and swung again, the sword flashing into existence briefly as she again aimed for his exposed side. 

Amethyst was caught completely off guard by the massive boot that collided with her chest, sending her tumbling back into the snow.

It was not graceful, the way Alastair moved, but it was effective. Having swung his sword to the side followed by a punch that pulled him off balance he did the only thing he could think to do when Amethyst appeared at his exposed back. Rolling forward he brought his foot up kicking behind him with all the force he could muster from the awkward position. His massive body fell forward as he tucked and rolled, springing back to his feet a few feet away.

“Crafty, moving to the blind spot.” He praised her as she slowly stood trying to suck in air. He rolled his shoulders before holding his sword at the ready, both his hands completely engulfing the handle as he took a wide stance across from her. “Ready?” 

Amethyst grit her teeth as she looked to her father, her sister's voice entering her mind as she locked eyes with the mountain of a man before her.

He’s just playing with you; you know that right? 

“I know.” She growled bringing her sword up, how does he keep dodging my attacks?

Simple, you're predictable. Dad is a seasoned warrior, you're not going to surprise him like a simple bandit. You’re going to have to do something unpredictable to catch him off guard.

Amethyst clutched her sword before her as she looked at her unmoving father. He said this was a sparring match, a fight where he would acknowledge her skills, yet he refused to move… “then I will make him.” She growled, raising her sword high above her head. 

Everyone was stunned as Amethyst, from 20 feet away from her father, threw her sword at him.

It tumbled through the air in a lazy ark that would have made contact with him if he didn’t swat the sword to the side at the last minute. The moment his sword contacted hers in the air, another whip crack rang out.

He quickly looked around for where she would appear only to be surprised by a metal boot to the side of the head as Amethyst kicked with all the might her tiny body could muster. It was like kicking a stone, her leg was instantly alight with pain as the shock vibrated her bones.

Alistair was stunned as his head snapped to the side though his body stood rooted in place as he watched his daughter tumble down his shoulders and out of sight behind him. Two emotions swelled within him as he could feel the warmth of his own blood running down his cheek.

The first was unmatched pride, that kick though not powerful, would have been enough to end a normal fight. 

The second was anger, not at Amethyst, but himself. He knew the moment she threw her sword at him was his mistake. He knew he had insulted her, his mind refusing to see her as none other than his bright eyed little girl rather than seeing her as the young woman she had become and as such, couldn't bring himself to attack her yet insisted she do just that to him. He knew it was selfish, to tell someone to come at you with everything and not respect them with the same curiosity…

He spun to see her quickly backpedaling away from him, he expected her to be scrambling for her sword that lay in the snow beside him, but her eyes were locked on him. The expression of anger on her face drove the point home, he wasn’t fighting his baby girl, no, she had grown beyond that. What stood before him was a woman more than capable of caring for herself.

“I am sorry, Amethyst.” He muttered under his breath as he again raised his blade. 

Instantly the clearing was ablaze as he erupted into flames, the spiraling inferno coating the area in a thick fog as the snow around them instantly vaporized.

That’s not good. Hecatolite yawned in her mind as their vision was obscured.

Of course, her father knew how to block her teleportation. It did not matter how good of a space mage she was, one massive draw back to her power is it required one of two things. Either a specific designated spot one could picture clearly in their mind, or line of sight. 

Amethyst in a desperate attempt to get her bearings in the fog released her mana in every direction, the act giving her barely enough time to dive out of the way of the burning sword that skimmed the tip of her hat. The fact her danger sense hadn’t reacted was the least of her worries as she felt her fathers crushing grip as he grabbed her leg out of the air. 

Amethyst felt much like she assumes a toy doll would as she was violently whipped to the side and tossed a dozen or so yards before crashing into the hard frozen ground.

You better do something quickly. Hecatolite said calmly as Amethyst bounced off the ground.

She did not reply as she fought her way to her feet. She quickly scanned the area for any sign of her father, the thickening fog making the search futile as a panic began to creep up her spine. 

She attempted to use mana sense to find him only to find the area around her so bathed in his mana already that pinpointing him would be…

She brought her arms up as a flash of light caught the corner of her eye, barely making it in time as the flat side of her father’s massive sword slammed into her. Much to Alastair’s amazement, she caught the burning sword in her arms just barely keeping herself from being sent flying into the smoke again.

The area around them seemed to still as Amethyst looked into the burning vestige of her father, the dragon slayer. She returned his gaze with a glare of her own, Alastair greeted with the eyes of the All-faiths saint, the marking on her face outlining her smoking purple eyes in an eerie glow.

“Surrender.” She growled as she could feel her skin burning through her armor. 

He fought the urge to laugh as he lifted both her and the sword into the air. He could feel the draw on himself as Amethyst attempted to pull his sword from his grasp, “sorry darling, that’s not going to work.” He said as her face contorted in concentration.

Attempting to teleport another person was… difficult. It required a lot of things to go just right if that person was unwilling. You would need to overpower their will to stay, even trying to store his sword away made it clear to her that Alastair had an unshakeable will. 

She forced more mana into the spell as he raised her high into the air, her feet dangling below her as she kicked at his burning body. 

She could feel the shift as he turned to swing her and the sword into the ground, her grip on the blade starting to waver as she could feel her mana battling his.

Realizing her struggle was useless against her father’s steadfast grip she quickly changed tactics. She released the sword moments before he swung it, allowing it to be torn from her arms as she fell onto his shoulders, and with all her might she did what only she could do… she sank her teeth into his shoulder. 

Alastair bellowed as she felt her teeth hit bone, the shared gluttony of her sister activating making short work of the imposing obstacle. The flames danced around her face as she ripped a chunk out of her father’s shoulder before sliding down to the ground below.  

He stumbled forward, turning back as she quickly spat the ball of flesh out before attempting to roll back into the smoke.

With a massive grunt he lifted his leg and punted her into the air. 

Everyone stood at the edge of the clearing squinting in an attempt to make out the two fighting inside the cloud. Fiori as the only one without any way to see through the fog let out a yelp of surprise when Amethyst crashed into the ground before them.

“Well now,” Taaffeite sighed as Alexa ran to her sister who lay unmoving in a smoking heap before them. “I would say that went well.”

A moment later Alastair appeared from the smoke, despite the bloody hole in his shoulder and the gash across his forehead, looking just as happy and jovial as always as he walked towards them.

Just as he was about to speak, the smoking girl sprang from the ground as a rush of energy filled the clearing. “Did you really need to kick us that hard!?” Hecatolite yelled, holding her head. “I won’t forgive you if you knocked any of our teeth out you know!” She pointed an accusing finger at their father who replied in a deep laugh.

“Sorry, I may have overreacted.” He said, rubbing his own head, “I didn’t expect her to be so determined.” He said, patting the bloody bite mark in his shoulder.

“Well, you taste like an ashtray.” Hecatolite stuck her tongue out as Alexa started pulling her armor off. “So, when is it my turn?”

“You seriously think you’ll be in any condition to fight again?” Alexa flicked her forehead, “poor Amethyst’s hair just grew back too.” She sighed looking at the melted mess that was her sister's hair. 

Hecatolite rubbed her head where Alexa had flicked her and began grumbling. “Well, it's only fair, she got to play with dad.”

“If you want, after Alexa heals you, I’ll “play” with you.” Taaffeite's voice caused everyone to freeze as she looked down at the only person in the whole crowd who didn’t lock up at the threat in her voice.

Hecatolite looked at her mother with a bloody smile and nodded, “yea!”

Taaffeite stood across from Hecatolite in the clearing Alastair had made in the snow. While Alexa was healing her, they had Ethan clear away the smoke, though it did little for the now freezing mud, they at least had a clearing to “play” in.

“Now, this is a very simple game,” Taaffeite rolled her rapier in her hands as she called out to her daughter who stood across from her attempting to balance her mage bane cane in her palm. “I will attempt to stab you. All you need to do is dodge.”

“Pff that's it?” Hecatolite dropped her cane as she fell into a crouch, “doesn’t sound like a lot of fun; I can do that easily.”

“It’s not a fun game, Hecatolite.” Taaffeite raised her rapier and pointed the thin blade at her daughter. “It's to teach you your weakness.”

Hecatolite chuckled as she watched her mom walk slowly towards her, “weakness? I’m not weak, I am strong, I'll show you. You won’t get….” Her words were cut short as, with the most casual of motions, Taaffeite pressed the tip of her rapier into Hecatolite’s leg.

Hecatolite jumped back in surprise as she looked down at the bleeding wound in her thigh. She looked up with amazement at her mother's sword that was now smoking slightly as her acidic black blood dripped from the tip.

“Lucky shot. It won’t happen again!” She activated her soul sight looking for any trace of whatever spell her mother was using to escape her sight.

Everyone watched, as in near slow motion, Taaffeite walked to Hecatolite and again, pressed her sword ever so gently into her leg Just above her armored greaves. The third time Hecatolite managed to dodge only to be met by a quick slash that opened a gash in her upper arm.

“What’s going on?” Fiori finally asked as Taaffeite opened yet another hole in Hecatolite. 

They had all seen her fight before, sure there was no technique to it, but Hecatolite was brutally effective at two things, not getting hit and smashing anything that tried to hit her. In fact, in all the time “hunting” with her, they could each count on one hand the number of times they saw anything make contact with the young woman while Hecatolite was in control of the body, always moving with inhuman speed out of danger yet Taaffeite was simply walking up to her and… stabbing her.

“You mean to tell me you three don’t know?” Alastair asked as Alexa slowly healed the hole in his shoulder. 

“Know what? Is Lady Lapidary using some kind of spell?” Ethan asked.

“No, that can’t be it, there’s no mana moving out there… she’s just… stabbing her.” Mira said watching Hecatolite growl in frustration as Taaffeite stabbed at her again, this time Hecatolite managed to deflect the blow to her leg with her armor.

Hans chuckled as he watched the fight, “I don’t think they are going to get it Alastair, you might have to tell them.”

Bell growled, “you mean to tell me our only three A-rank adventurers can’t figure out her biggest weakness after traveling with her for so long?”

The three of them looked to one another before Fiori shrugged, “didn’t notice she had any to be honest. She survived being eaten by a basilisk, can smack a cannonball out of the air out of reflex, hell I saw her wrestle a drake once because it looked like a giant dog, and she wanted to “pet” it. Hecatolite is… well, Hecatolite.” 

Alexa finally sighed, “Hecatolite is skill dependent.” She wiped sweat from her brow after healing her father, the act of healing both of them having been more of a draw on her mana than she expected. Her father was simple, Amethyst however, she will need to have a long talk with about whether or not holding onto a flame mage's sword is a wise decision.

“Skill dependent?” Mira asked, looking back to the fight that had degraded into Hecatolite swearing and calling Taaffeite a cheater. “How so?”

“People use skills every day, everything from cooking to fighting monsters, people use skill for every aspect of their lives. Hecatolite is different though.” Alexa said, walking up to join the line of onlookers, “if I were to suddenly remove your skills, would you be able to survive?”

“Of course, even without skills or magic I could figure it out.” Ethan answered immediately, the other two agreeing a moment later after thinking it over.

“I don’t think Hecatolite could.” She said solemnly, “if Hecatolite’s danger sense doesn’t trigger, she doesn’t even bother to dodge a sword coming towards her. She never bothers to check her surroundings, simply assured that she is stronger than anything that might attack her. If she were to think about it for even a second, she would reinforce her body so mom’s sword couldn’t pierce it…”

“But since Taaffeites attack have no blood lust behind them, she doesn’t defend.” Alastair sighed, shaking his head, “she’s relying on pain nullification to ignore the damage already done to her body, honestly, this fight is already over.” 

They all watched as Hecatolite flailed her arms wildly as her legs finally gave out under her, she yelled as she attempted to stand only to be stopped by Taaffeite who knelt next to her and pulled her into a tight embrace. “It is true that Hecatolite is indeed powerful but make no mistake, she is far from unstoppable.” Alastair said as he made his way over to them, picking both of them off the cold ground and embracing them despite Hecatolite’s protest that she could still fight.

Alexa did her best to heal her as they started walking home though, a dozen sword wounds, some of which were deep enough to chip bone, were simply out of her capabilities meaning Hecatolite needed to be carried back to town. Thankfully she didn’t protest as she rode on Alastair’s shoulders, holding onto his head much like a child would hold a teddy bear, humming the whole way home as she constantly asked him to “heat it up.”