A/N: thanks for the reviews and comments, guys! now here's the final chapter in The Devil King, and its most explosive yet! i hope you enjoy! and oh, as always, COMMENTS and REVIEWS are much welcome, and i will do the same for you!)


Final Stage - The Sword in the Stone

Her scream was the most terrifying and mind-numbing sound he had ever heard.

He was vaguely aware of people screaming, a stampede as if maddened bulls, children crying and sobbing, men cursing as they fought their way out of the doomed plaza. Sheet lightning lit up the darkening sky; the dark billowing clouds that had once surveyed the city above now became as black as pitch, as if an abyss had opened directly overhead. Grey, visible wind swirled around an invisible center, lighting up occasionally with the deafening roar of thunder, and hurricane-force winds were now just beginning to buffet the city. Spires whistled and he could hear doors and windows banging shut, all against the shrill and desperate turbulence around him. Men fell and stomped over, dying against on the cold cobblestones, their tongues lolling out of their mouths, their eyes open, their bones crushed. Babes were dropped, crying, as their mothers, possessed by insanity, ran as far as their legs could take them, shrieking and tearing their hair.

Even the soldiers and knights, sworn to defend the people and order at all costs, found themselves killing each other in their haste to escape from the chaos. Swords were drawn as bloodlust quickened in their veins, rousing them to tear one another apart. Blades and spears were raised, and then fell, blood splattered and spilled, as their mounts whickered and arrows raced across the air, grunts and curses, pleading for mercy, the clang of steel against steel. It was the sound of madness, of insane fear. The king, his trousers wet with piss, ran away for his life, two knights in lances chasing him into an alleyway. There one of them run down his liege lord with his lance from behind, killing him instantly, shreds of his violated heart sticking to the point of the weapon. No sooner however had this knight taken it off that his comrade drew his blade and sliced it across the unprotected throat of his friend, a fountain of fresh crimson blood greeting him. As the strong escaped and the weak piled on the streets, the overpowering smell, the tang of blood as they seeped through walls and the ground permeated the dark, dank air.

Nive backed away, too speechless to do anything, and frightened out of his wits. Morgan had stopped screaming, and she was smoldering with a tangible and visible aura of blue and purple flame. The air around her shimmered like a mirage, the whitewashed pavement reflecting her radiance, faint crack lines snaking from her position.

He could see what she was, now, as her cloak had been burned away. She was a demon, her arms covered with blade-shaped scales, the rest of her body sculpted perfectly but clad in the same black skin as the caged Elder. Aside from the pointed horn that had grown iridescent red on her forehead, she had now two curved horns from the side of her head that curved forward, and instead of the fins on her ear she had miniature bat wings, horrible and evil. On the back of her right hand glowed a golden orb, seething and hot like the sun, bathing the dark plaza emptying of people with a sick yellow light.

Suddenly, as she raised her hand a flattening wave emanated from her, like an extremely strong gust of wind, and her aura exploded in a nova of blue fire. Nive was thrown away by the blast, landing him on his back against a tree, and he groaned in pain just as he saw the aura disintegrating everything around it. Rocks, pavement, metal fences, greenery—all of them reduced to bits, pulverized to inexistence, as the swirling globe of raging energies, like a blue crystal ball with waves of froth whirling around it, dug itself deeper and deeper into the ground. As he sank to his knees Nive could feel the ground itself shaking, and fault lines now an extensive network across the plaza.

"Imrassar save us," he mouthed weakly. He looked past her and saw the Elder from before shattering his chains one by one. He struggled to get up, but coughed blood. His back felt broken, that he was sure. He leaned over, blood from his mouth dripping to the cold hard stone. Was he to die in this city?

As sudden as it had started the burst ended, but it was replaced by another horror. Nive thought he had stared into hell and back, but it did not prepare him for what he saw.

What he once knew as the girl outside the city was now vastly different. She was armored in gold and black, scanty but very powerfully built. On her forearms arched two crimson blades, and on her shins fanned out two blades as well, like the wings of a dragon. On her back were folded several wings laid parallel with one another, twice as tall as she and reaching to her ankles; they were all topped by wicked-looking spikes or claws, and glowed furious red. The bat-wings were now larger and draped down on her chest, while a skirt of lobstered mail hung down from her waist down to her knees; a pointed tail flicked lazily behind her, much like bladed chains jammed together that looked like it can extend and cut anything she wished to. Her eyes were embers of red fire, and her face cruel and ebony, her lips violet, fangs protruding from them. Her bright scarlet hair, knee-length and luxuriant, waved against an invisible wind, as red as fire itself, while sparkling embers fluttered around her. And she was taller, more regal; he felt like in the presence of a queen that had lived forever, who had been royal ever since time had begun.

"Morgan…" he whispered.

Her head shifted, as he was facing her side, and she just looked at him, as if scrutinizing an ant that had spoken her name.

"My lord," the demon from before said, now free from his chains. "I will destroy the filth, if it pleases you."

Morrigan the Devil King just stared at Nive. He didn't know why she was called a "king" and given honorary titles for males when she was female. Her ample breasts, covered in black but otherwise smooth skin and cupped with the golden armor, heaved as she breathed.

He struggled to rise up, his body screaming at him for the abuse, and held the tree to steady himself. The ground was still trembling, and a shallow crater of broken stone, as if a parched and caked land, was around her. Part of a park was destroyed with the crater, he saw. "Morgan, listen to me… don't…"

"Profane insect," the Elder growled, and the grid fences that caged him exploded in a shower of jagged fragments. Before Nive could react, though, the Elder had bounded to him in one leap, gripped his neck with one hand and raised him from the ground, choking the breath out of him.


"You arrogant fool dare call the King with your soiled tongue! You—DARE!"

Nive knew the Elder could very well crush his neck as if it was as fragile as an egg, and his legs dangled a full feet from the ground. He looked down on the demon, his sapphire eyes flashing with anger, holding him with one arm raised, and his cloak billowing behind him. Morrigan was still looking at him, never leaving her stance. He still had hope.

He rummaged from the pockets of his torn cloak for the piece of metal, a cylindrical small object that he kept hidden and would only use in times of dire need. He brandished it now as his lungs neared to bursting through lack of air and his face was becoming purple.

The demon's eyes trailed and widened as he saw it slice through the air, but he hadn't reacted quickly enough and Nive slammed it to the demon's elbow, as if there was a blade on it. And it did. A crystalline column of transparent energy erupted out of the demon's arm opposite the hilt, as if a beam of light had gouged through the Elder's flesh, while black and dark violet blood sprayed out of the wound. The demon screamed shrilly, his hands loosening his grip, his forked tongue shooting out of his mouth, reeling backward.

Nive, free and falling to the ground, took the hilt with both of his hands and curled up, drawing his legs together to his chest, a grim cast on his face. He then used the motion to kick the demon's chest with the full force of his two legs, and as the Elder stumbled backward he seamlessly drew out the sword from its arm, a jet of blood, so thick it threatened to make him gag, spouting onto him. The demon screamed a little more loudly this time, as Nive landed gracefully, crouched and holding the hilt with one hand. Only this time, a blade of exquisite transparency, double-edged and as long as that of a bastard sword, now stood out of one end, the dark blood of the demon staining its length.

The Elder—a Merihim—backed a few paces, a mixture of fury and fear on his face, as he held his wounded arm. Nive stood, gripping the sword, looking right onto the demon's face.

"Who… who the... who are you, human?"

He glanced at Morrigan. He had to finish this quickly, lest she transform fully into the Devil King. He took a step forward, readying for his stance, the sword fully grasped and raised onto his side, pointing toward his target.

Morrigan spoke, and it was something he would never forget for the rest of his life. It was fluid, like lava pouring out of a volcano; deep, hot, and horrible. "Astaroth."

The demon, hearing his name mentioned by his King, faced her and knelt on one knee. "Kill him."

"Yes, My King."

It all happened too fast. Morrigan shot like a red comet straight to Saint-Tres's sculpture, even before Nive's mind could register that the demon he was fighting was Astaroth himself, whom he had claimed to be Tres. Morrigan's departure from the ground was nothing short of forceful. The fault lines gaped into fissures all in a span of a split-second, and whole, uneven slabs of stone took off from the pavement, as if they were flotsam in the ocean and somebody had jumped out of them. Morrigan, her wings flaring around her like some monstrous dragon in the form of a woman, terminated right on the glorious structure and in an instant a pillar of fire and rock exploded right behind the statue as she struck it with her fist. The monument crumbled down in a massive show of dust.

He was too careless. Astaroth materialized in front of him, and assailed him with a strike of his horned fist. Nive had just enough time to block the attack with the width of his sword, but it splintered into shards with the force of the blow. He was hurled backward, his feet trying vainly to dig against the ground, but nonetheless he terminated against the façade of an inn. He grunted as the windows behind him shattered upon his impact, his body causing cracks against the wall itself as if it had caved in, fractures on it like the web of a spider.

Nive weakly gazed at the dust pillar at the center of the square, red lightning flashing out from it at intervals. Astaroth was walking towards him, a grin on his hideous face. Blood from Astaroth's wounded arm trickled onto the ground, but he ignored it; his quarry was dazed, bleeding, and weak. Nive felt that he could do no more, but embrace death. His knees buckled, but he tried to keep standing, leaning against the damaged wall. His head was bloodied, and his forehead had a deep gash. His right temple up to his chin was all red and slick with blood.

Astaroth raised his right arm, the wounded one, to his side, and a globe of dark light accented with sparkling white appeared, hovering inside his fingers. It flashed and an oversized, single-edged blade shaped like a butcher's knife, tapering, gradually materialized in his hands, from the hilt down to the tip as if it was being unsheathed from an invisible scabbard. When it was complete he swung it around him, the air whistling, and pointed it at Nive, held by one hand when it was as big as the wielder itself.

"Get up, human. Filth. Insect. Entertain me with your death."

He stared dully. It was Azoth, he knew. It was the ability to materialize any kind of weapon, any kind of object, as long as you have the mana to produce such a thing. The Elders, being Artificers before who had used Azoth all their lives, were such masters that they could generate an entire city on whim—and it follows that what they could create, they could also destroy. Azoth was not only the power to create. It had been repeatedly used to destroy, to atomize everything and decompose anything into its smallest particles, which led to the Elves sealing its power from being used again—and yet, they had failed.

He was correct. His journey to Duskfell was to protect the sword from being pulled out, because it was the only thing that kept the city from being ravaged. Once it was taken from its receptacle Duskfell would cease to exist for all purposes. And he was correct that the Elders would converge on it, because Dusk was Skufnung—the sword of prophetic doom that would rewrite the entire history of the world and decide its future. Astaroth was the one who bore it, and the prophesied Devil King would wield it, when time approaches its end. The Judges did not hear him; instead, they set their sights on invading Harmonia to root out the Elders.

Skufnung was one of the keys to the Seal of Azoth; the other was destroyed. Once Skufnung was wielded the Winter would not harm the Elders anymore, and the land will turn to its death once again as a result of the Winter stopping, a premature end before the world could heal itself. It was a catastrophe his Order had once known and defended against; and yet they had turned into politicians, using their vaunted armies to force a defenseless nation to open its doors to them.

And Amitiel… he had always been guided by the promise they had made, ten years ago. Ten years where his life had begun—and where his curse had been made. Ten years of straying across the world in search of home, and Skufnung would destroy all his hopes of returning once more, of seeing her again.

He stood up. Blood dropped from his wounds. The wind gave him hope, and his cloak, soiled and brown, fluttered about him. His face was sad, yet it was grim. His eyes burned, but they were grey.

"You will die, fool. Are you prepared?" Astaroth asked, sneering.

"I am." His voice was melancholy, quiet.

Astaroth laughed. "Giving up so soon? What fool am I. I have actually expected you to fight more, as you had that magic sword… that I have shattered."

Nive reached with his left hand, and undid the clasp on his cloak. His fingers worked calmly but quickly, and the clasp and the strings fell away, and he threw it away, revealing what he really was.

For once Astaroth was gripped by hesitation. Nive was clad all in white, a long-sleeved coat open at the front, golden shoulder pads, and a high collar that reached to his ears. His blond hair fell gracefully about him, waist-length, hiding his face, but his eyes burned through. On his chest silver embroidery flashed to the world what he was.

"Justicia," Astaroth muttered, their names for their nemesis, the Judges. "Silberkreuz," he added, noting the silver cross on Nive's chest. The Silver Crosses were the elite fighting force of the Judges, versed not only in weapon but arcane techniques, lore and sorcery. Silberkreuz fighters are the equivalent of the Elders, highly sought-after, and responsible for many of the Elder's deaths.

Astaroth laughed, manic and frenzied. "Come, come, Silberkreuz! Never before had I fought one of you before, and it had always been my wish to take the head of one. Come, and adorn my blade!"

Nive put the hilt on his left arm, and an aura of white-hot energy swirled around him, just like Morrigan's but more subdued. It lit him up in fluorescence, like there was a source of light under him, and waves, like fire and steam, rose out from him. The sleeve on his left arm tore open as if ravaged by a beast, melting into nothing, and his arm was bared from his shoulder to his wrist. A grisly, silver network of glowing tattoos pulsated on his arm, like some sick dragon had embedded itself on it.

Nive pulled out the hilt from his arm, and the tattoos, seemingly having a life of their own, came with it, like it was just gum that had landed on him and were just now being taken away. Blood spurted out, spraying onto the ground, but Nive ignore the pain and meticulously drew the sword out. It seethed, having no form, like smoke and spirit combined, a blob of energy as tall as he was, a flaming pole of white energy.

"Hyounagi," he quietly said.

The light flashed, and Astaroth covered his eyes in surprise. The energy on the hilt condensed into a blade, double-edged, a much larger version of what he had produced earlier, straight and true and translucent, milky-white and shining as if it had light itself. The blade was almost a foot wide and four feet long, and it gleamed like the midday sun reflecting off snow.

"What the hell… What the hell are you…" Astaroth backed. Then suddenly as if his madness switch was thrown on, he leapt at Nive, who stood looking at him flatly and disdainfully. He brandished his own gigantic sword in a wide arc and brought it in a diagonal slash.

It was as if time had stopped. His sword met rock and stone, which exploded as if a giant had jumped on it, a fountain of crumbling earth spewing over him and knowing that Nive was missing, and he couldn't see him, and—

"Too slow." He whirled around and saw with panic the Silberkreuz behind him, his pale white sword slicing through air straight at him—

Astaroth opened his eyes and saw his King's back turned towards him, her wings folded, and Nive gritting his teeth in front of Morrigan.

"I have no time to spend playing with you, mortal," Morrigan announced. His blade was stuck between two of her fingers, and on the other hand a blood-red, flaring sword of greatsword length was held. Its hilt was far longer than its blade which made it look like a spear, ending in a pommel of rotating blades that hovered around the shaft.

"You…" Nive muttered.

"Silberkreuz." She said, as if it was just another kind of thing. "We will play in due time, Silberkreuz."

She flicked her fingers.

Nive screamed as the force of this simple move chucked him across the square, which began with something like a ring of red energy and culminating into him hurtling through the air, and boring through one building as if he was a cannonball. The building promptly collapsed into dust, roof, tiles, timber and all, and Astaroth gasped in her sheer power, speechless.

"My King," he began.

"What a great help you were, Astaroth," Morrigan said simply. "Should I take off your useless arm?"

He knelt amidst the ruins. "If it please you, Your Greatness."

"It does NOTplease me." Morrigan tsked, a terrible sound of her annoyance. "I want the Silberkreuz killed next time he attempts to stand against me."

"Yes, my King."

She surveyed the city, where she had just entered several minutes ago. In just a short while it had transformed from the jewel of the North to an utter ruin, but she must not stop there. She had to, and she would. The sword in the stone—Skufnung—had been claimed, and the city had fulfilled its use. Astaroth had once made this city to guard it, when Skufnung had been lost a hundred years ago with the death of the Devil King and it was sealed by the Elves. Now she had returned, and now she had claimed it, once again. And this time she would fulfill the prophecy.


"Your Greatness."

"Destroy the city. Leave no one alive."

As Astaroth stared at her retreating back, he bowed, and said, "Yes, my liege."

f i n

To be continued on Tsubasa Reverse. Tsubasa Reverse: The Devil King © diamond-dust08 2006. All rights reserved.