“We’re free!” Margaret shouted and jumped in elation. The girls hugged each other in celebration for being free of the labyrinth. Even Penthesila who always liked to act tough shed silent tears, testament to the amount of suffering that they had experienced in the Labyrinth of Daedalus.
Ray stood some distance away to give the girls some room.
His face became serious when he detected a malicious presence. It was well hidden that the girls did not notice but it did not go unnoticed to Ray. He was actually expecting it so Ray wasn’t surprised when a yellow web of magic suddenly surrounded them.
Even before the spell took effect, Ray had already raised an invisible Aura Barrier around Princess Elle and the others.
The appearance of three Shadow Assassins brought Princess Elle and the Golden Wings’ celebration to an abrupt end. The colour faded from their faces as they saw that they were surrounded by the fiends and were trapped in their magic curse.
“Your little escapade ends here princess” a cold voice said.
A shadow appeared on the ground just outside the magic web. The shadow rose out of the ground and took the shape of a Shadow Assassin. Except that this one was twice the size of the other Shadow Assassins and ten times as terrible. An Alpha Assassin.
“My queen ordered that you be brought back alive and made an example of, but does not mind if I bring back your corpses. I think that I will be going with corpses” it said in an evil tone.
“I don’t think so” Ray said aloud, moving between the Shadow Assassin and the girls in a protective gesture.
“My order is that you half-wit Demon lap dogs go run back to your queen with your tails between your legs and tell her that the Heroes are coming for her. Or –“ he emphasised the next part, making it sound like he preferred this choice.
“– I will destroy all of you and send your sorry remains back to your mistress to make my statement. Which one would you prefer?”
Princess Elle and the others felt both appalled and admiration at Ray for so blatantly challenging four Shadow Assassins. Mostly they felt appalled and thought that he was an idiot for angering the Shadow Assassins.
But neither the girls nor the Shadow Assassins knew how powerful he really was. To drive his point through, Ray destroyed the ‘Arachni Web’ curse without even moving an inch.
Blue lightning spread through the ground from his feet, destroying the curse in an instant.
This show of power caught everyone’s attention.
“Who are you?” the Alpha Assassin asked thoughtfully.
“Your demise” Ray answered with a confident grin.
The Alpha Assassin chuckled, raised its cloaked hands and cast another Arachni Web. This spell however sucked all the magic and demonic life force from its underlings. A horrible scream came from the other three Shadow Assassins. They began to smoke as they were worked to the limit to power the spell. One of the Shadow Assassins suddenly burst into flames and reduced to charred bones within seconds.
The Arachni Web changed from yellow to red as its power was brought to the maximum.
However, while Princess Elle, Penthesila, Margaret and Marry could feel the massive demonic power that was being directed at them with malice, its intended effect did not touch them.
A light green Aura Shield surrounded them, effectively blocking the Arachni Web.
Ray glared at the Alpha Assassin. “Even if a hundred of you gave everything you have, you will still not be able to touch me” he said calmly. There was not a trace of fear in his voice.
“Arrogant human” the Alpha Assassin growled.
It raised the power of the Arachni Web to the maximum, causing two of the three Shadow Assassins to burst into flames as their life force was used to power the curse. The spell was so powerful that it caused the ground to crack and the air to heat. Princess Elle, Penthesila, Margaret and Marry could see the air around them being affected by the Alpha Assassins magic, and yet they were unharmed inside Rays shield.
“Impossible!” the Alpha Assassin said, it’s monstrous voice trembling.
“Raiden” Ray said calmly, raising his left hand.
Arcs of blue lightning shot forth from his right hand and surrounded the single Shadow Assassin that was left and the Alpha Assassin, paralysing them.
Ray disappeared and in the blink of an eye reappeared in front of the Alpha Assassin, a black kodachi in his right hand.
“Murakumo no Tsurugi” Ray whispered to the Alpha Assassin as he plunged the kodachi into it. The kodachi then turned white, appearing to dissolve into liquid, then vapour, and then disappeared.
When the kodachi disappeared, Ray turned away from the Alpha Assassin, giving his back to it which made Princess Elle and the other girls question his sanity for a moment, but the Alpha Assassin did not move. It would never move again, though the girls did not know this.
Ray did the disappearing and reappearing in the blink of an eye thing again, returning to his original location between the girls and the last remaining Shadow Assassin. He did a swiping gesture with his right hand and the lightning surrounding the Shadow Assassin disappeared.
Ray’s tone was calm when he addressed the Shadow Assassin, but his words were filled with terrible rage that it caused the girls to shiver even though his words were not directed at them. Although Princess Elle, Penthesila, Margaret and Marry would come to know Ray as a kind, soft spoken comrade; there would always remain in a part of their mind the image of Ray as they saw him now. Arrogant, cold and deadly.
“Take this lump of filth back to your little mistress and tell her and all your ilk to tuck their tales between their legs and get out of Avalon” Ray said scathingly. “If you don’t, I will come for you. I will not hunt for you because that would mean you have the ability to escape from me. You don’t. I will obliterate all of you and even should you put everything on the line to oppose me, you will not be able to do a single thing. Now get out of my sight”
The Shadow Assassin that had been quiet as a mouse while Ray addressed it swooped to its frozen boss and flew away as fast as it could.
Ray turned to the girls, wearing his usual sweet smile. No one could ever believe that someone with such a look could talk so scathingly and threaten to annihilate a whole populace.
“Let’s get to the Academy shall we? Your mission is over. You’ve reached the Academies. We’ll do all we can to help your people so you can rest for now”
As the four girls hugged and cried, Ray tapped the air with his finger and a portal opened. When they stepped through, they were in the Academy infirmary. Several nurses rushed to help the girls onto beds and look at their injuries.