Chapter 269 – Screaming Fists
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The extra mist that swarmed around Yuki allowed him to manage the spear.  It became stuck and pulled away while he charged in to hit Demosthenes.  Unfortunately, the momentary surprise for his opponent wore off too quickly.  He managed to deflect and dodge most of the strike away.  ‘Damn, I could’ve ended it there…  Now things are going to be dragged out since he knows its potential.’

Demosthenes took a few steps back recovering his spear from the mist.  “So this is how you’ve evolved your power.  This certainly looks more on par with the potential you should have.”

“You have an odd way of being surprised.”  Now that Ayumi cleared up his head, he could see the old man a little differently.  Before he was so blinded by emotions that he couldn’t see it.  There was a strange gentleness in his eye accompanied by stubborn harshness.  Unyielding resolve carved out every wrinkle in his face with such intensity that could never bend or break, impossible strength to carry through any hardship.  Years and trials seemed to be painfully marked throughout his expression.  A long story walked the length of his face.  Yuki could see it all there plain as the nearly white color in his hair. 

The images that had been built up of him certainly had conflicting imagery.  ‘I’m not getting the same sort of vibe from him that Ayumi claims, at least from him now.  He looks more like how she remembers from her stories she tells me, rather than the dark hand manipulating everything.’  Her stories had some date to them.  Yuki sort of expected they might be colored by her bias to remember him the way she wanted rather than he truly was.  He might have been some con artist playing everyone.  She claimed he was working with the Council and at the heart of the assassinations, yet such impressions exposed themselves when he examined him.  ‘What do I believe then?’

Confusion didn’t help in the middle of a fight.  Yuki shook his head, needing to focus on what the old man’s move might be.  ‘The reality at the moment is that he’s standing in our way.  Once in the Palace I’ll be able to get to the heart of this matter.  The Council…’

Chapter 269 – Screaming Fists

Eudokia watched the two battling renewed with Yuki making full use of his power.  She smiled, pleased to see it had worked.  ‘Demosthenes should see the proof of my work now.  Yuki’s able to challenge him on a level field now, but Demosthenes still hasn’t revealed the full extent of his power.’  The fact that the secret remained sealed for the time being still left Eudokia with concern.  She knew how he currently fought was the preferred method by Demosthenes, but if he needed to be serious, he could be nearly unstoppable.  These were facts that Eudokia understood, one Yuki knew none about.  ‘It’s your final test, Yuki…’

Yuki danced around the grass Field keeping up with the thrusts from Demosthenes’ spear.  His mist prevented any projectile spears from being a threat.  The focus could be solely on their martial skill.  It was how Yuki preferred it, but he knew part of it did come down to their skill with their powers.  ‘Currently my Field is roughly equal to his, but he still hasn’t done any Folding.  I can’t be certain that he started out at his max number of Folds.  Judging from how he’s been fighting, I’m guessing he started out at his base and is waiting to use them.’

Grabbing the spear just behind the head, Yuki squeezed down on the wood.  He focused his power at his hand drawing in an increased amount of the mist.  The wood splintered.  It struggled to keep its shape.  ‘I can exceed his strength if I concentrate more of the energy in one place, but I still can’t complete a Fold.’  He watched the shaft suddenly reform and return him back to the start.  Further application proved to be even more challenging.  A battle of Field strength carried out on the spear.  ‘If he goes and does any Folding I don’t know if my excess energy can make up the difference.’

The constant worry over Fields and Folds left Yuki more open than he wanted for Demosthenes.  He lost hold of the spear and flew backwards just above the grass.  ‘Damn, I can’t think too much or lose my focus.’  Yuki turned his head towards the grass and pulled the mist in around him.  Manipulating it like a hand, he righted himself and flung himself back towards his fight.  ‘I can’t afford to get lost in my thoughts against someone like him…’

Blocking and deflecting Yuki into the air, Demosthenes watched him land safely behind him.  His mist came to his aid once more.  “So it has multiple uses.  Then let’s make this a little more interesting.”

“Huh?”  Yuki tilted his head in confusion.  Confusion didn’t last for long when he saw Demosthenes start to lift away from the Earth.  “You can fly too?”  The old man hovered about a meter off the ground.

“It’s a little different from flying, but close enough.”

It might not have been the first time Yuki saw someone use their power to fly, the Sand Assassin demonstrated and Ayumi explained it.  However, it didn’t change the fact that every time he saw it made him smile a little inside.  The idea of flying was a simple, but consistent dream.  Living inside the world of manga and anime gave him the only outlet of vicarious experience, unreal and fictional as it was.

He then realized he had to match him for their fight.  Demosthenes expected it of him.  ‘I’ve never actually tried to maintain myself before with this power.  It’s flexible enough, that's why I’ve kept it.’  A general idea of how to make it work came to him.

Mist gathered up under his feet.  The energy he used had the benefit of only requiring a position to fix rather than needing something to support it.  So all he had to do was stand on it.  Just to be sure, he covered his entire feet.  It looked like he glowed a little as he raised up in the air.  ‘Careful…’  He made the mistake of leaning forward too much and nearly fell over.   Yuki caught himself with the mist a few centimeters before crashing into the grass.

Pushing himself back up and adjusting to the balance, Yuki found himself in a little better of a position.  He found spreading his legs as if he was standing on the ground helped.  “So much for showing off…”  Yuki allowed himself to float a little higher, while not so casually staring at the ground.  He had protection against falls, but he still didn’t want to think about it.

Once it seemed that Yuki stabilized himself, Demosthenes took the first move.  He didn’t seem to run, but more like gliding through the air.  It looked like with his spear held out front and aimed down that he used it to balance or steer.  Regardless of the purpose, he slashed upwards at Yuki.  “Don’t start getting complacent.”

Yuki tried to keep his balance from the slash, but the force was more than his feet could handle.  His body still didn’t trust the mist.  The result left him falling backwards rotating around the point that anchored his feet.  “Wo-woa-woah!”  He flailed about coming around.  When he saw Demosthenes in range, he pushed himself forward to try to punch him.  A little weak, he connected with something, even if it was just a deflecting hand.

Flipping over sideways, Yuki awkwardly tumbled around in a circle again.  He had to use more of his mist to control his position.  ‘I could really use that natural talent protags get for just being protags…  This is making for a really embarrassing fight…’  Yuki tried to ignore how he might have looked to focus on the fight.  He stomped through the air like trudging through snow.  The experience Demosthenes had in such an environment made it difficult for him to keep up.

Eudokia stared watching the two take their fighting to the sky.  It was difficult for her to watch Yuki flailing about while Demosthenes looked like he was walking on the ground.  ‘Demosthenes…what are you trying to do?  Yuki’s not used to fighting in the sky.  What sort of point are you trying to make?’

The clashes with Demosthenes still knocked Yuki back, but he got a better feel for how to handle it.  He slid through the air, while using mist to hold his back from spinning around.  ‘This is far more complicated than I expected.  I have to think about so many different things other than the fight…  How is he managing it so effortlessly?’

Not paying good attention, Yuki made the mistake of leaving his bottom completely exposed.  None of his mist covered him under his feet.  A large array of spears appeared to fly at him.  ‘Damn!  No time…’  He dodged some of them and used the mist to deal with others, but one still got through.  The sharpness of it must have had a lot of attention by Demosthenes as it cut through his personal shield.

Blood dripped from the side of his shoulder.  He modified his energy to patch up the injury before it bled too much.  ‘I can’t believe I made such a rookie mistake!  I’ve read enough to know that I should be paying to every angle when I’m fighting in a 360 environment.  He’s exploiting my unfamiliarity with the situation.’  Yuki corrected the error allowing the mist to surround him completely.

He witnessed more coming in from his flank.  The mist dealt largely with them.  All he had to do was thicken the mist to prevent them from entering.  However, Demosthenes came up from the opening forcing Yuki to cover with his hands.  He punched out at the spear tip halting Demosthenes.  The force still pushed him around into a spiral upwards into the air.

Higher and higher into the air they went.  Demosthenes broke free and struck out with several spears along with the one he wielded.  Pulling himself away, Yuki escaped the immediate threat, but it turned into a chase.  He had to dodge flying spears and the swift flying Demosthenes.  ‘Damn, just as I’m getting used to flying.  He’s coming at me with everything.  I feel like I’m going to fly apart.’  One of the spears broke through drawing up a little blood from a graze on the upper part of his shoulder.  ‘I can’t keep all of this straight in my head.  If I was on the ground I wouldn’t be having this problem.’

A hundred or more spears all flew in at him from every and any direction possible.  The count only seemed to increase as well leaving Yuki a bit in awe at the impressive scale he could achieve.  Unfortunately, it also meant that he had that more to dodge.  He couldn’t keep up with the flying and dodging leading to further injuries.

Yuki blew out his mist and put a spin on it to try to give himself some space.  It managed to hold back the spears for a moment.  He recalled the multi-layered barrier Yumi used and took inspiration from her.  Drawing up five layers of spherical mist around him all moving at different rotations and speeds, he kept up with the attacks.

However, as he got pushed higher and higher, Yuki realized how high up they had become.  Only the distant looking Omega Spire was taller.  “Crap!  I really didn’t want to be this high up.”  He glanced over at Demosthenes charging in at him for another round.  “He’s wanting me up here.  It’s part of his plan…”

As Yuki’s new shield made it difficult for the spears to get through, Demosthenes smashed through directly.  The mist was nothing to him.  He thrust straight for Yuki.  He tried to grab the spear, but lost his barrier from the proximity.  The spearhead dug into his waist, but the mist kept it from going in too far.

Refocusing his power, Yuki pulled the metal out from his waist and immediately sealed up the wound.  ‘Damn that hurts a lot!  I don’t think it’s that bad, I stopped it in time, but that was too close…’

In the distance, loud noises finally made it to Yuki.  It sounded like explosions initially.  He glanced over with curiosity, a little worried their fight might have caused trouble to the Capital.  The distance was too great for him to see anything.  All he saw was smoke and the occasional movement of buildings.  It was all too tiny for him to clearly make out.  ‘Is that you guys fighting?’

Thoughts of his friends had to be packed away as the fight never stopped.  The next strike knocked him back with surprising force.  Yuki danced around on the air trying to keep his balance.  He even used his hands to slow himself down.

‘They’re all fighting because of me.  All of this is happening because of me.’  He couldn’t be certain if it was them down there, but he felt pretty positive about it.  They weren’t so far behind them to not have caught up, especially Saki.  The thought of his friends fighting strengthened his determination.  ‘If I end this fight I can stop all of this fighting.  They won’t have to be hurt anymore!’

Yelling a little to give voice to his strength, Yuki tightened up his hands in concentration.  ‘Come on!  I need more power from it!  Fold, dammit!’  In the air, he had no clear sign if he worked, but he was certain he could feel a difference.  The strain in his mind certainly felt heavier than before.

Demosthenes came diving in from above with the sun behind him.  Filtered through the mist, Yuki didn’t have to strain as much to see him.  ‘Do or die time now!’  Yuki flew up to meet him, gathering more of his mist together on his hand.  His fist slammed into the spear once more.  This time the wood groaned under the force.  He could feel it overwhelming the weapon.  Pushing with the mist on his feet further, he rammed through the spear.

Shattered, Demosthenes blocked him with his hand.  However, before Yuki allowed it to continue, he shaped out the mist into a claw that gripped the air.  It pulled him away and threw him around behind Demosthenes.  His fist slammed into his back sending him flying downward.  Even with him falling, he still could manage to throw spears at Yuki.

Yuki flew down in chase, narrowly evading the spears.  A couple clipped his face barely.  Demosthenes already started to turn around, recovering and bearing a new spear.  Throwing the mist aside, Yuki used his flight to navigate around the weapon.  He struck deep inside Demosthenes’ stomach adding even more force downward on him.

His body shot back to the courtyard as it quickly grew grass everywhere in his approach.  Demosthenes righted himself at the last moment to land knelt in the grass.  The force sent minor cracks outward.

Staring up at Yuki, his single blue eye held fixed on him.  “Seems I will need this after all.”  Demosthenes began to raise his hand up to the eye patch covering up his left eye.

“Well this is a little cliché,” commented Yuki, “Hiding a secret behind your eye patch.”

Eudokia leaned forward knowing what was going to be happening.  “Yuki!  Watch out!” she yelled with panic heavily weighing her words.

“Eh?”  He didn’t expect to hear Ayumi freaking out.  Yuki stared back down at Demosthenes wondering what had her so scared.

Demosthenes grabbed his patch and moved it over to his right eye rather than actually removing it.  Underneath the patch, he slowly opened his left eye to reveal a yellow glow from it.  Suddenly the ground and air vibrated.

Yuki could nearly feel the ominous atmosphere coming off the change.  “What the hell’s going on?!”  He looked around trying to see what changed.

In the next moment, thousands of ripples appeared in the space around the General of the Army.  Out of the ripples each revealed a weapon none like the next.  It looked like a sight out of a weapon smith’s shed with them gone crazy on making any sort of weapon they could think up.  Most didn’t even look like a realist weapon.  It didn’t matter though.  The scale spoke for itself.

“…oh crap…” uttered Yuki, as his eyes and mouth widened in shock.

Demosthenes stood up calling to both of his hands weapons, one a giant sword and the other a scythe.  “Now bear witness to why I hold the name Alexander!  The Bearer of an Army!”