78 – The old scar!
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Why her?

That was all she could think as her former mother, piloted by a demon, sent a surge of dark magic in her direction. She was so stunned, she didn’t even reflexively deflect the attack as she would have normally done.

“Watch out!” Spark screamed as she talked her out of the way. The following blast completely eviscerated the bush prop behind them, throwing splinters all around.

Gwaaah!” the demon wearing her mother’s skin roared before readying to fire off another shot before the two magical girls could recover.

Luckily, it was interrupted by a hail of dark magical arrows, forcing it to redirect the magic to block.

“Nice save, Cody! C’mon Frost!” Spark yelled out as she stood up and drew her bow.

Frost, despite feeling anxious and terrified, managed to stand up and gripped her shield tightly close to herself. She watched as her former mother got pelted by more magical arrows from both Cody and Spark.

But she didn’t move to assist them.

“Gah!” Cody grunted as a stray blast of magic hit his side, launching him backwards.

“Cody! Grgh! Dammit!” Spark swore under her breath as she countered every projectile coming her way with one of her own. She could hold her own, but she was steadily losing ground.

But Frost still wouldn’t move. She had gotten better. She had become a magical girl, a hero. But she still hadn’t shaken off the old habits. Hadn’t healed the old wounds. She hadn’t forgotten the years of powerlessness because of the person in front of her.

“Railgun!” Spark yelled out as she let loose her ultimate move. With her being at her strongest this time of year, it should have been enough to knock almost any opponent out.

The attack impacted the demon way too quickly for it to react, launching it across the auditorium, making it crash in an explosion of dust and debris.

“Cody! You alright?!” With a moment of respite, Spark rushed to her fellow bow user, who hadn’t moved since getting hit.

Frost screwed her eyes shut, took a deep breath, and shuddered as she exhaled. She forced herself to put the possessed woman out of her mind and rushed over to Cody as well.

“I’m sorry… I…” she mumbled, feeling ashamed of her earlier display. All that talk about wanting to be a magical girl, to fight by their side, and the moment something unexpected happened, she crumbled like a house of cards.

“It’s fine,” Spark said as she shook her head. “That was your… biological mother, wasn’t it? I get it. I would be rattled too.”

Frost grit her teeth but didn’t say anything, opting to instead scan Cody with magic to make sure he was alright. One of the many tricks she had learned from the demon castle’s library.

“He’s alive. He should be fine but… we need to get him out of here,” she confirmed before glancing around and seeing the other two fights still raging.

Spark nodded. “I’ll go help out the others, make sure Cody –”

A blast of magic aimed in their direction interrupted Spark. Frost only barely put up a barrier to protect them. A moment later, she tensed up again as she noticed who had fired that projectile.

“Shit!” Spark swore again as she looked at the crash site of the demon she had shot. “How is she still going? Dammit!”

Frost could feel herself lock up again, but this time, she also felt anger. Anger at herself for letting this happen. For freezing in the face of true adversity even though she should be the one commanding ice.

“Guard Cody! I’ll take care of this!” Spark shouted as she drew her bow once again to face her opponent.

Frost wanted to deny the request. To say she would fight with her. But she couldn’t say it.

Frustrated with herself, she instead erected a magical barrier around herself and Cody as she tightened the grip on her shield.

She watched as Spark struggled to keep up with the demon’s barrage. Every projectile fired made her grip tighten more and more. The voice in her head got louder and louder, both insisting that she was a damn coward and should stand up and fight as well, while simultaneously telling her to stay the hell away from that woman, to not do any sudden movements lest she attracted her attention.

“Railgun!” Spark shouted again as she let loose her ultimate move once again. However the demon was smart, had learned from last time, and managed to dodge the beam of magic right before launching a counter attack.

“Wha–?!” Spark, unable to recover from firing her own spell fast enough, got clipped by the counter-attack on her shoulder. “Argh!”

“Spark!” Frost found herself shouting.

Using this opening, the demon launched another barrage of spells. Spark had no time to react to them this time.

Frost didn’t know what happened the next second, but before she knew it, she stood before Spark with her shield raised, having blocked every one of the projectiles.

There was no more fear. Only anger. Anger at herself. Anger at the demon. Anger at the woman whose presence still haunted her even to this day.

But on the other side of that, there was hope, worry for her friends, and determination to stop the demon before her.

The two combined seamlessly and before she knew it, she held her old demonic sword in one hand and her Ice Aegis in the other. Her magical girl dress tinted purple and gained black ornaments as her demonic horns, tail, and wings grew out.

The possessed woman looked at her with hatred.

Max… Imposter…!” she spoke in two different tones and voices.

Frost clenched her teeth again upon hearing her old name. The name this woman had given her.

No. It didn’t mean anything anymore. All of that was in the past.

“That’s enough…” Frost muttered. “You’ve been haunting me for long enough.”

She prepared her sword and shield. The demon screeched something incomprehensible as magic swirled around it.

And the duel was on.