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Old February 16th, 2013 (7:29 AM).
apenpaap apenpaap is offline
    Join Date: Oct 2011
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    Chapter Seventy-Four: Children of Equinox
    Lord Publius Cornelius, leader of the house of Equinox, looked upon the battle, and the combatants looked back in surprise, momentarily pausing their fighting. Several pokémon and trainers of the resistance had been fleeing, but some of them took heart in the appearance of the house of Equinox and stopped, while others used the opportunity to escape. The resistance clearly wasn't doing very well. “Brittanicus, Livia,” he said, “we split our forces in three, you two take the flanks; I shall take the centre. We attempt to outflank as many enemies as we can.”
    “Father,” warned his son Gaius, “there are too many for us to achieve victory. Besides, remember why we are here: not to perish in a battle that has already been decided.”
    Publius did remember why they had come: the moment Gaius had returned with the news of Octa leaving their house, Publius had immediately left to convince his son to reconsider. Most of the family had joined him, of course: even Gaius had returned with them. None of them wanted to lose Octa. Aurora Invicta, now leader of the house of Quintillus, had joined them with a few of her kin. “I know,” Publius raised his voice, addressing the almost four dozen of those with him. “Equinoctes, we came here to give aid to one of our own in undoing his error, but he requires aid of a different nature now! He is not the only one: all those who fight Team Plasma now depend upon us! 'Tis true, I'm afraid: they are losing this battle, which means they require the valour of Equinox even more! Do we turn back in dishonour, let Team Plasma go victorious, and leave those who fight for justice and freedom to die alone while our magnificent ancestors twist in their graves in shame?!”
    Lord Publius held out his Leaf Blade and slowly charged up a Solarbeam, letting his entire body glow with it as a battlecry. Those he addressed began to do the same one by one. Even Gaius joined in and began organising a dozen of them as lord Publius continued. “Or do we fight?! We shall do battle, for Equinox and honour, no matter the odds! We shall fight those who oppose civilisation itself and bring honour worthy of our ancestry to ourselves! Fight now! Fear death nor darkness, for we are children of Equinox!” Lord Publius turned his attention to the flabbergasted enemies, who had regrouped in face of these forty Servines and Serperiors, all glowing brightly with sunlight by now. “FOR OCTA!!!”
    They charged their foes, blade in hand, striking them down by all firing their Solarbeams before they clashed with the endless ranks of the enemy.

    The light of the house of Equinox washing over their enemies down below like a wave of light was brilliant, like the Sun had risen in the middle of the dark storm. Realising they had all stopped fighting to watch the spectacle, Boreas snapped out of his reverie and climbed up on the back of Salamence's neck. As it noticed him and began bending its spine wildly to try and shake him off, he sent pulses of cold into its head and throat.
    With Boreas keeping the dragon busy, Octa managed to stab it in the side, but was thrown away by a powerful claw immediately. Salamence was momentarily immobilised as it mentally repelled Esper, allowing Boreas to regain his grip on its neck and climb up further to its head, holding on to the spikes there. Esper staggered back at his contact with the powerful draconic mind, but Altaïr the Luxray quickly took his place and zapped the dragon. Boreas was slightly shocked too, but its resistant body had already absorbed most of the electricity.
    Salamence roared and hit Altaïr with a white beam as Boreas Ice Beamed its thick skull from behind. He kept his attack up in the hopes of knocking Salamence out or killing it, but it began rocking its entire neck and head back and forth rapidly to get him off. He tried to hold on, but one paw was loosened, and then he didn't have enough grip any more and flew off, hurtling over the balcony's edge. He made the storm blow him back with a mighty gust and landed hard on the balcony.
    His Ice Beams had had their effect, though: Salamence was dazed and dizzy with its brain cooled down, having much trouble fighting Octa, Esper, and Altaïr, as it kept missing them. Boreas rejoined the fight from a distance this time, making the storm into a haily blizzard that struck hardest at Salamence. It spit blazing fire to try and keep itself somewhat warm and was almost completely focussed on that. Octa hit it with an Energy Ball to the face, making it recoil, and then stabbed his blade deep into the dragon's exposed chest.
    They panted in exhaustion and victorious exhilaration, until Altaïr said: “Where did Rood go?!”
    They looked around, but saw Elesa had caught him personally as he ran away and had knocked him out. It was so easy to just overlook humans in battle. Boreas felt great relief until he remembered Febby. He and Esper rushed for White, who was still administering to her, using potions and stitching her wounds to try to stabilise her enough to return her to her pokéball. White looked sad and panicky, and Boreas felt the same.
    “How-” stammered Esper. “How is she?”
    White gave him a quick pat as she continued treating the gravely wounded Umbreon. “If I can just stabilise her, she'll be alright... You two can give me a hand...”
    Boreas carefully slowed Febby's bleeding while Esper used his powers to check her mental condition. “She's almost gone,” he said in horror, “she's in a deep coma... Please, you have to rescue her!”

    Aqua and Toxica ran through the castle, looking for the others as they ran for the tallest tower. When Lucius, Selene, and Boreas had darted out of the ruined hall, they had all followed, but Aqua and Toxica had gotten caught up in the fighting and fallen too far behind. They had tried to shout to Octa, but he hadn't heard them in the howling winds of the tempest.
    The pokémon they were fighting were mainly weak, but there were lots of them and they had slowly become overwhelmed. Then this mysterious green light had shone in the distance, and a lot of the enemies had relocated to a different part of the castle, which allowed the girls more breathing room and eventually let them slip through the enemy lines, leaving a path of beaten foes in their wake.
    “D'you think I should forgive Octa?” Toxica suddenly blurted out.
    Aqua was taken aback a little, as she'd been thinking about the battle, wondering how wise it was of her to run further into it instead of getting out while she still lived. “Uh- Well, I dunno, I-”
    “I mean, he's left his house for me and all, so I think he really is serious that he's chosen me over it. And I know he loves me.”
    “Umm...” Aqua tried to think of an excuse not to have this conversation. “Well, don't you think this is a bit of a poor time to be having this conversation? We're in a battle here.”
    Toxica gave her a frowning, sarcastic look. “You just got married in battle, and my duty as best woman was basically keeping the guests off your back so you could actually kiss the groom, so don't accuse me of poor timing.”
    Aqua laughed. “I suppose you're right. Well, I don't think I can give you advice, because to be honest I don't know what you see in him. But if you really do like him for some reason, then maybe you should take the chance? But if he leaves you again, castrate him.”
    Toxica stared at her with a flabbergasted look, and Aqua met her gaze trying to keep a straight face. Then they both burst out with laughter so bad they had to stop running. “I-I'll keep that idea- in mihihind!” said Toxica through fits of laughter.
    “Be sure to warn him first,” Aqua laughed, “that way you'll be sure he really does want to get back together.”
    “Oh, hi, darling,” played Toxica, “I've thought about it and want to date you again, and oh by the way, if you let me down I'll-” she trailed off into another fit of laughter.
    Aqua was the first to recover. “In all seriousness, though,” she said, wiping tears from her eyes, “you know him better than me. If you honestly think he's serious, then go ahead and forgive him.”
    As Toxica had laughed out too, they resumed their run through the castle. “Thanks. That's not much of an advice, though.”
    Aqua shrugged. “I know; but I can't really give any better than 'follow your heart'. You're looking at the wrong person for sage wisdoms, or just any advice better than what you could've thought of yourself.”
    “I guess... By the way, which way do we take?” asked Toxica, but the maze of corridors they were in eluded Aqua too.
    “I dunno,” she said. “I can faintly hear the wind in that direction, though, so that'll be a way out.”
    They decided to follow the faint sound of the wind Aqua heard, and eventually ended up on a large balcony with many dark burned spots. Aqua jumped with joy and ran faster when she saw her husband – it really felt good to think of him as that. She was planning to pounce-hug him, but she saw his grieving face as White returned a pokémon between them to its pokéball and broke to a halt, approaching him more gently. She sat down next to him and softly huddled against him. Boreas startled, then gently embraced her, crying slightly.
    “It's... It's Febby, Aqua... She's-” his voice broke.
    Aqua hugged and supported him, suddenly feeling rotten for acting nasty to the Umbreon earlier in her euphoria. After a while, Boreas let go of her, his grief gone and replaced with determination. “Come, my love,” he said, “I've lost enough friends today. It's time we ended this.”
    Boreas' voice was calm, but full of a conviction harder than steel that inspired Aqua and dispelled her last considerations of flight. “Alright,” she said as they stood up. “But we'll do it together. No running off this time.”
    “Indeed,” said Octa, joining them. “The sacrifices made today shan't be in vain.”
    “Well?” said Toxica. “Let's go get them, then!”
    “White,” asked Elesa, “are your pokémon well enough to continue?”
    White nodded. “Febby will remain in stasis in her pokéball, so if she has any hope of survival left she at least won't get any worse... Don't you think we should wait for Black, though?”
    “I think something bad may have happened to Black, if his pokémon are here all alone without him.”

    Lucius lashed out at the grass-types with the blazing inferno around him, cursing under his breath at being so outnumbered. “Stupid crazy birdbrain, you were supposed to make sure those other idiots kept up with me!”
    Selene sat on his shoulder and fired bolts of darkness and knife-sharp waves of air through his flames at their enemies. “Sorry, my telepathy doesn't work well in a crowd, so I had no idea that's what you wanted.”
    Lucius jumped into his own flames, throwing Selene off to fly for herself, as Cradily spit a barrage of rocks into their original position. Lucius punished it with a Flamethrower, but wished he could get closer to personally rip off its tentacles. “If it wasn't for your stupidity, we wouldn't be outnumbered seven-to-two now! Or I should say seven-to-one-and-a-half, since you've only got half a mind to begin with.”
    “Well, surely your obvious genius counts for seven, allowing us to outnumber them?” asked Selene as she nimbly dodged aerial attacks.
    “Hey! Quit mocking me!”
    Lucius had sprinted for the tower, his thirst for revenge speeding him up. He had no way of knowing the others had had stupid for breakfast and lost him. Maybe Aqua had finally shown her true colours and turned against them? Lucius didn't know, and didn't care; even when he had found himself taking the wrong turns and going to a different part of the castle, because he had seen Ryoku fighting there, his Garchomp obliterating pokémon with every attack. Of course he had tried to kill the thin Sage; one revenge was as good as the other. But he had found himself outnumbered and outmatched, even though these were only grass types. He was lucky Garchomp was busy with other enemies.
    The circle of intense flames around them protected Lucius and Selene from their enemies, most of which had to get within physical range to attack, while allowing them to counterattack. The flames also made it so warm not that much rain fell on them.
    “Anyway,” boasted Lucius, “you're probably right. I can handle these idiots, with a little help from you. Fire beats grass any day.”
    “Not if you're trying to choose what to sow a football field with,” said Selene, using a gust of wind to blow fire on Exeggutor. “Sowing a field with fire is a complete mess.”
    “Shut your beak, you crazy b- Oh crap!” The Garchomp leapt into the air and flew rapidly at them with its wing-like arms, straight through the fire.

    “Diego, my spare mantle please.”
    Diego helped Ghetsis put on the long black cloak over his dark clothes, as the human's injured right arm prevented him from doing so himself. “Thank you,” he said, looking at himself in the long mirror he'd had brought to the throne room. “A pity that Houndoom managed to get close enough to damage my robes, I rather liked them. But I don't suppose torn robes are very fitting for an Emperor's first address to his people.”
    “No,” smiled Diego, “I suppose they aren't. So when will you make your address?”
    Ghetsis walked over to the throne. “Once the battle is won and the resistance crushed. I'll tell the people of Unova all about them cowardly murdering N and how we made them pay for it, and how I will rule in N's name and all that.”
    Diego curiously felt no regret when Ghetsis mentioned N's death. It already felt like something that had happened to someone else. In a way it had. He had been in such mental turmoil, but his decision was made now. There was no turning back, as nothing could return N, and that made things so much easier. His loyalty was to his true friend, Ghetsis. After all, Ghetsis' arm and eye had been permanently wounded rescuing a young Zorua long ago. He had had nothing but loyalty for the human ever since he'd saved Diego's little sister at great personal peril, loyalty that soon grew into friendship.
    Ghetsis looked at N's throne with disdain. “I know they wanted to make something impressive that would appeal to the boy and help him think he really was the king... But couldn't they have made this a little less overdone?”
    Diego shrugged. “Don't you want an impressive throne to convey imperial power?”
    “Power should speak for itself, not be shown off with ridiculous golden thrones. I don't imagine a golden chair sits well anyway.”
    Diego hadn't thought of that yet. “I guess not.”
    He was beginning to get a little sick of this talk of clothes and chairs, though; the battle raging outside intrigued him far more. He didn't want to be cooped up in here while their final victory was won. He wanted to personally kill some of the idiots who thought they could beat Team Plasma. Diego wondered why the resistance was even fighting at all, outnumbered as they were. Were they really so blind they couldn't see there was no way they could win? Most of all, he had unfinished business with Boreas and Aqua. He wanted to finally fix the mistake he'd made in Opelucid Gym, that he hadn't been able to right in front of N while wrecked with self-doubt. He wanted to see the light leave Boreas' eyes, to sever his last tie with “Zeph” and destroy a potentially dangerous enemy in one move.
    “Are you sure you don't want to join the battle again?” he asked hopefully.
    “I told you, my friend,” said Ghetsis, “I've fought enough for one day, and I don't want my new imperial robes ruined as well. That's why I had Giallo take my team instead in the first place.”
    “I see,” said Diego, trying to hide his disappointment.
    “However,” said Ghetsis with a smile, “I'll ask Giallo to send one of the Kyurems back here instead to be my personal bodyguard, so you can join the battle.”
    “Thank you!” Diego exclaimed happily.
    “You're welcome, my friend. But be careful, please.”

    They walked through the empty parts of the castle behind enemy lines. The four members of Black's team were joined by White, her Braviary, and Esper. Elesa with Altaïr and her Zebstrika was also there: they had left some of their wounded pokémon behind to guard Rood, as they would only endanger themselves more in battle. Their journey to the tallest tower was quiet, as there were no enemies and the tension made them all go silent. Esper especially had changed a lot from the cheery and rather annoying Espeon he normally was.
    The tower came closer, and Boreas now recognised where they were: on the path they had followed to the throneroom earlier. He knew after they left the tower they were in, they'd have to cross a big courtyard on the roof of a lower building, go through the building with N's childhood room, up an ascending path on a wall, and then they'd be there.
    As Boreas - who walked in front of the troop - entered the courtyard he saw all of Ghetsis' team, and all of sage Giallo's steel-types in it. He jumped back before they saw him, bumping into Altaïr and Aqua. “We've got a problem. Giallo's there, and he's got Ghetsis' team too. There's the two Kyurems, Metagross, Steelix, and Kingdra, just to name a few.”
    “Piss,” cursed Toxica. “At least I guess it means Ghetsis is defenceless if we can get to 'im.”
    “Other than his cane...” muttered Boreas, remembering the heavy knock on the head he'd received.
    After some translation difficulty, Elesa said: “Well, we'll never get through here with all these pokémon guarding the way, so we should turn around and try to find another way to Ghetsis.”
    “I'm afraid that's not an option,” said Octa, “for there were no branching corridors any more past this point, ergo this is the only way to the throneroom.”
    They contemplated what to do for a moment. “Then all we can do is fight them,” decided Boreas. “We don't stand a chance against so many strong enemies, but we have to try and slip past. Anyone who can get behind the enemy makes their way to Ghetsis as fast as they can and kills him. Hopefully before anyone else dies...”
    They paused for another moment, gathering their courage. They all realised those who couldn't slip past the enemy would probably not survive against so much power. “All those steel-types... Where is Lucius when you need him? Or any fire-type for that matter?” muttered Octa.
    “I don't suppose you could just fly to the tower?” Aqua asked Braviary.
    It shook its head. “Not in this storm, the winds are far more dangerous above the ground and make it impossible to fly. I'll try to fly through their line as quick as I can, though.”
    Boreas grabbed Aqua's paw and kissed her. “Good luck, my love. I'm glad I jumped off that boat last year.”
    Aqua smiled. “Me too. But don't think you're off the hook yet: I expect you to stay in one piece for the wedding night.”
    Boreas chuckled. “I'll try to survive if you do.”
    As they were almost ready to charge into the courtyard, Boreas overheard Toxica whisper to Octa: “I love you.”
    “I beg your pardon?”
    “I said I love you,” she repeated. “And I really appreciate what you did for me, leaving your house. I just needed a little more time. I guess now there's probably none left.”
    “Do not be so pessimistic,” Octa said gently, “we may yet make it. You have certainly given me a reason to ensure our survival. We shall yet have our second chance.”
    They were all ready now. “Good luck, everyone,” said Boreas. Then he ran into the courtyard, gathering the storm to him and freezing all the rain to envelop himself in a cloaking hailstorm while some of the others chose to attack the enemy from this distance. It seemed fortune was slightly in their favour, as the white Kyurem had disappeared from the ranks of their enemies and could be seen flying into the tower instead. Unfortunately that meant the chances of anyone making it through actually killing Ghetsis were much lower.
    The enemy recovered from their surprise, most barely hurt with their tough metal armour, and counterattacked. Braviary was fried by a mighty bolt of lightning in mid-flight as it tried to pass Kyurem. Boreas managed to dodge another lightning bolt, hidden as he was in the snowstorm. It seemed like he might be able to slip through the enemy ranks until the gigantic Steelix slithered into his path. Boreas jumped into the air and created a powerful upwards gust at the same time, launching himself metres up as a colossal metal tail crashed where he had stood a moment ago.
    High in the air, he found Braviary was right: the storm was much stronger and more dangerous here. It was a good thing too, as it blew him out of the way of Steelix's gargantuan jaws snapping at him; however, he put his paws to the side of the iron snake's head and froze them to the wet metal. Steelix tried to shake him off, and Boreas timed his letting go just right so he flipped through the air in a pretty arc and landed on the back of its head instead. Here he had easy access to the thinner armour of its neckjoint, where he began pumping pulses of cold into his behemothic enemy. Steelix screeched ear-piercingly and shook violently all over with pain.
    With a speed belying its size Steelix jerked its body up violently, and Boreas didn't freeze himself to it. He was thrown high into the air, tumbling, while Steelix under him opened its titanic maw to catch him with. But Boreas wasn't scared, as everything was going according to plan. He stopped his wild tumbling with a gust of wind so his head pointed downwards to the gaping maw, exposing a fleshy throat and with it Steelix's greatest weak point. Boreas began by firing a few Ice Beams into it, then as it closed its mouth and cringed with pain he aimed some into its eyes for good measure.
    Unfortunately the next stage of his plan didn't work out so well: he tried to create upward wind to slow his descent and land softly, but the air simply didn't want to do that. He thought quickly to find a way not to break most of his bones on impact, and luckily Ghetsis' charging Bouffalant volunteered to break his fall as it ran underneath to attack Altaïr. Boreas adjusted the winds to flip him back around with his feet down and to aim himself for the ungulate.
    Bouffalant's fluffy head provided a surprisingly soft landing, though Bouffalant didn't find the falling Glaceon's impact to its skull remotely as harmless. It was knocked out almost instantly as Boreas bounced off and landed behind enemy lines with a roll. The wounded Steelix was busy losing to Aqua now, so Boreas knew it was time to proceed to Ghetsis.
    His path was instantly blocked as an elephantine metal leg slamming down hard before him along with the entire tank-like creature it was a part of. He tried to defend himself, but a kick by a heavy metal leg knocked him down. The next moment Metagross was upon him, its crushing weight pressing down on his body, creaking his bones. He tried to release a pulse of cold into it, but it barely responded; he fired Ice Beams at its face, but it psychically blinked them out of existence before they hit. Metagross lifted up a solid steel leg and held it above his head, about to crush it like a grape despite Boreas' struggles. It didn't even flinch when a jet of water hit it from far away.
    “An Equinox shall never stand alone! Attack!” cried a voice that sounded much like Octa's, distracting Metagross as it brought down its mighty leg, allowing Boreas to barely dodge it by pulling his head to the side. A blue Servine and six Serperiors, one of whom Boreas recognised as Gaius, had just joined the battle. Their leader looked a lot like Gaius too, except older and far more majestic. Another was almost immediately killed by a bright beam from Kyurem. The remaining snakes joined the battle, but unlike Metagross Boreas didn't stop to watch them: he used his enemy's distraction to fire Ice Beams at its eyes. Even in a creature where the eyes are made of metal, they tend to be a vulnerable spot, so the shock of being hit there made Metagross lift up its body in reflex. Boreas instantly rolled away from under it and jumped back to his feet. Metagross tried to Body Slam him with its entire metal mass, but he had jumped up on its head already.
    Boreas froze his paws to his enemy, expecting it to try to throw him off, but instead he felt a mighty and alien mind invade his own. Neither will nor anger provided any defence against the sheer force the Metagross' robotic mind had. He was completely powerless, and soon his entire nervous system was on fire as Metagross overloaded it with tremendous amounts of energy. He was in agony and wouldn't last long under the mighty creature's attacks; but the pain stopped soon as Metagross' mind left. Boreas slowly opened his eyes, bright white sparks of pain still flashing in them, and saw Octa, Toxica, and the blue Servine were fighting Metagross, distracting it from killing Boreas. He fell off behind the steel-type and slowly got up. Though the grass-types were fighting three-on-one, they were still losing.
    Boreas was about to attack Metagross from behind, but Octa made eye-contact with him, and he could tell clear enough what he wanted to say if it wouldn't alert Metagross Boreas was behind him: “Don't! Remember our mission, my dear fellow: you are behind the enemy, so go for Ghetsis, for we shan't win this battle either way as long as he lives.”
    Boreas gave Octa an almost pleading look: “But I can't leave you here!”
    Octa's glance was inexorable. “Yes, you can. Besides, this was your idea. Now go.”
    Boreas nodded to his friend, both in agreement and as a goodbye. Octa nodded back. Boreas turned around and walked into the building behind the enemy, turning around one last time: he made brief eye-contact with Aqua and suddenly wanted to turn back. He had promised her they would do this together, after all.
    Aqua looked at him, clearly saying something like “We are doing this together, as we'll provide a distraction. Go on, my love.”
    Boreas nodded and they exchanged a smile as goodbye. Boreas wished he didn't have to go, as he had the horrid feeling they wouldn't see each other again.

    Octa felt great relief as Boreas turned around and left the battlefield. He had feared the Glaceon's emotional nature would get the best of him. “Father,” he said as lord Publius too joined the fight against Metagross, “I am honoured by your presence, but-”
    “Octa,” snapped Lord Publius angrily as a psychic attack knocked Toxica away, “you should not have left our house!”
    “But I did, father!” replied Octa as he dodged a crushing, heavy leg. “I have chosen Toxica, and there is nothing you can change about that!”
    “Stupid boy!” scolded Lord Publius, making Oct feel like a young Snivy who had accidentally hurt his sister again. “I do not want to change that decision, don't you even remember our conversation on this?! I support you in your choice, and your gratitude is to leave our great house?! That is the decision I wish to change!”
    “Father, despite your support our house still does not accept my choice; in fact the part of me that considers its traditions holy does not support it! There is an inherent conflict between our house's traditions and my love; therefore the only course of action is to separate them; to separate me from our house.”
    “Our traditions have changed in the past, and they shall change again. I would much rather change this tradition than lose my son.”
    “I know, but not all of us agree.”
    “Indeed we do not,” said Gaius as he dodged a great bolt of lightning by Kyurem. “For it is wrong to doubt the wisdom of our illustrious fathers and replace it with lack of traditions that brings us ever closer to commoners. Now we shall breed with them?”
    “You forget your place,” said Lord Publius. “If Octa wishes to, then yes, he shall.”
    “No, father. You may be our leader, but I have at least as much support as you, particularly with this débâcle ongoing. And I say it does not happen; therefore it shan't.”

    Boreas walked through the building's long corridor. The sound of battle soon died away behind him. He passed N's childhood room and finally left the building on the other side. There was only the lightly ascending path over the wall left, but it was blocked by an unwelcome presence.
    Diego looked as surprised to see him as Boreas was, but then he smiled maliciously and madly, like a hyaena at its prey. “Boreas, I didn't expect to run into you yet. I'm impressed you made it behind our lines, but why are you here?” Understanding dawned on the face Boreas hated so much. “Oh, I see. You're planning to kill Ghetsis to get rid of the Kyurems, right?”
    Boreas tried not to react as Diego saw through his plan. If he warned Ghetsis he would surround himself with his team and make it impossible to kill him...
    Diego smiled. “There's no point trying to hide it now. It's a bold plan, and explains why your entire resistance rushed into this battle, as it's the only way you stand a chance of victory. But it's not going to work.”
    “You won't stop me,” growled Boreas.
    “You've never stood a chance against me,” growled Diego. “I'll give you one opportunity to turn back and live. But of course, we both know you won't take it. So, it's time I did what I should've done a long time ago.”
    “I was about to say the same thing,” replied Boreas. “You've made your final victim.”
    “To the death, then.”
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