Of course, I couldn't really give her even the slightest impression that I am scared or worried, I have a reputation to protect, and In fact I have absolutely no doubts that I will be the one laughing in the end. However, her powers are decidedly not to be taken lightly. I have already seen what she is capable of, and now, I am sure, she will not restrain herself anymore.
Those eyes, that stance, those are unmistakingly telling me that a death sentence has been passed on me, and I feel a shiver running down my spine. But this is fine, this feeling, this overflowing anxiety and tension. I will really be destroyed if I make even the slightest error, and this thought, to me, is absolutely inebriating!
The eleven pillars activate at my enemy's command once again. The pressure is increasing and the air overflows with static energy. This is getting dangerous, I will move as far as possible away from Maaya, for the time being.
Dlanor and Pazuzu, having realized what is going to happen, suspended their battle temporarily. If they want to survive, they will need to focus exclusively on the calamity that the witch of power is about to unleash.
With a deafening roar, streams of concentrated energy begin to flow from the pillars to Maaya's stretched hand. This is similar to what she did before, but I can tell that this time she is garnering an even bigger power. The light emanating from those magical sparks is so intense that it is almost dazzling, and everything around darkens.
Erika: "I am ready. Do your worst, witch of power!"
Maaya doesn't even bother to answer, she simply smirks sardonically. A single instant later, the whole place is ravaged by her thunderstorm. Energy fluxes protrude from her hand and in a completely disorderly fashion reach out for the borders of this spherical prison. There are dozens of them, and they move quickly following unpredictable trajectories. This is a wondrous and terrifying display of power, but a thought occurs to me: in a way, this whole place has just become a colossal version of those fancy plasma globes. Right, plasma globes, which often are used by phony wizards and 'psychic advisors' to impress their simple-minded customers. There couldn't be a more fitting comparison, because in the end Maaya's bountiful power isn't anything more than a fraud, and a laughable one, I may add.
Evading the erratic electrical discharges is difficult, but far from being impossible for me, and I can always use my special trick as a last resort to instantly move from a location to another. The problem is that even then I will need to choose my destination carefully, because there are no safe areas to retreat to.
Maaya: "You're pretty obstinate, aren't you? I wouldn't have expected anything less from a cockroach! But there's more to come. Let's see if you can evade this too!"
I knew it. It couldn't be that simple.
Maaya isn't simply going to switch to a different magical attack, she will conjure another one on top of what I am already evading!
From her other hand, several beam of lights begin spreading everywhere. Unlike the electrical discharges they move beautifully and harmoniously, and while their starting directions seem to be completely random, they then all bend, tracing curves in the air, all aiming to a precise target: me! In other words this is a barrage of homing lasers.
Perhaps Maya thinks that this is an even more dangerous magic, but I don't really think so. Sure, now I need to evade attacks that are actively following me, how scary! Unlike the mindless sparks, these lasers have a sort of 'intelligence', so to say. But in truth there is a very huge downside that comes with all that: predictability.
Maya could even summon a thousand, a million, or even a trillion of those beams of light all at once! It wouldn't change a thing. They will all converge to a single point in the end, and I know exactly which! All that I need to do is to wait until the very last second and quickly evade before I get hit.
There is only a minor problem; I need to avoid the unpredictable electrical discharges at the same time.
Focus, I need to stay focused. A single error and it will be checkmate.
The laser beams are approaching ominously. Only two seconds before they reach me. This is where I should stay still to make sure they will all point to this precise spot, but I can't. One of those annoying sparks just had to irrationally change its course and move where I am at this very moment.
I dodge to the left, the beams immediately follow me. One second.
Maaya revels in an ephemeral, illusory victory as she observes her attack laying waste on my body. But her malicious smile quickly warps into a frustrated grin when she realizes that what she saw was just another afterimage.
That was a pretty risky move, I really waited until the very last fraction of a second, and soon after transferring I had to quickly assess my surrounding and evade another electrical discharge.
Maaya doesn't want to give me any break, a second wave of homing lasers is coming already. She must have figured out that I cannot escape forever, if she keeps this going for long enough, I will eventually perish.
Of course, that is true as long as I just keep evading and do nothing else. Anyway I am pretty far from exhaustion, and I can survive for quite a long time still. The laser beams are here and this time dodging them will be a lot easier.
Maaya: "Die, you maggot! Why don't you just die already?! Die! Die! Die!"
Maaya: "Ha! I'm merely irritated by your pointless obstinacy! There is simply no comparison between us, this is an absolutely lopsided battle! Then why don't you just stop wasting my time? Just give up already! I promise it will be swift, you won't feel any pain!"
Erika: "Ha ha ha! Aren't you getting a bit too overconfident just because of your brute strength?"
Maaya: "Brute strength?! This is magical power!"
Erika: "All the same! Power alone does not decide the outcome of a battle!"
Maaya: "We will see about that!"
I think I am getting better and better at this game, and isn't it funny how I am still completely unscathed in spite of this gargantuan offensive?
Maaya keeps on firing her beams of light at me and I keep evading them.
Maaya: "Just how long are you planning to continue like that?"
Erika: "Until the right moment, witch of power."
Maaya: "I didn't even give you the chance to show me a decent attack! You're totally at my mercy! You can't even get close to me! Face it! You basically did nothing at all since our duel started!"
Erika: "Oh, you're right, I suppose you won't have to worry about your defense then! You might as well lower your magic shield."
Maaya: "Spare me your cheap tricks! I won't fall for them!"
Erika: "Then are you acknowledging that I might... uh?"
What happened? Just now, I felt something very wrong in the way my body reacted to my commands.
Again... I am not moving like I wish to. Why? Did I forget how to fly in the metaworld? Preposterous! Something must be interfering and it is getting worse by the second.
Maaya is smirking, is this her doing? No, I would have noticed, it must be...
Ah, of course! It's him!
Where is he? How can he be so bold to attack me in this situation? Did I underestimate that demon?
Dlanor: "Miss Erika, forgive me! I had no choice but to disengage from combat."
Erika: "I know, but who would've thought that he would use his wind attack in this situation?!"
This is insane, Pazuzu is messing with my flying maneuvers, now pushing me from the left, then from above, behind, and then the right! He keeps changing the direction of his wind in a totally random fashion. He doesn't even give me the time to adapt.
And the thunderous sparks, like giant serpents, keep slithering all around me. The incessant fire of homing lasers doesn't allow me any rest. I must keep track of all these simultaneous threats, and I can't even properly control my movements!
Erika: "Ha ha ha ha! How splendid! This is fun! This is so much fun!"
Maaya: "What a nerve you've got! You dare laughing in this situation?! Or is it that your mind has yielded to insanity?!"
Erika: "Hey, Maya! I thought your pet wasn't supposed to interfere!"
Maaya: "Yeah, and? Oh, are you implying that he's attacking you?! It's not like his wind is directly harming you!"
Erika: "Is that how you justify your dirty move? Ha ha! Well, I can't say that I completely disapprove of that!"
Dlanor: "Miss Erika, I will find the demon Pazuzu and resume our duel. I will stop him!"
Erika: "Dlanor, are you sure you can manage that? You won't be of any use to me, if you get destroyed!"
Dlanor: "I will succeed, do not worry!"
Erika: "Very well, then go!"
She should do better to come back in one piece! She is my furniture, her failure would reflect on her master, in other words: me! That would be absolutely unforgivable! But if that poor excuse for a demon that Maaya summoned can use his power while under the constant threat of being electrocuted, then Dlanor should be able to do the same.
Ah, it appears that she found him, at last. Do not disappoint me, Dlanor!
Dlanor: "Demon, you will stop meddling in our respective masters' duel. Your opponent is Death Sentence Dlanor. I am in front of you!"
Pazuzu: "I ToOoLd YoU AlReAdY. YOu ArE IrReLeVaNt, InSiGnIfIcAnT, NeGlIgIbLe! WHyYy Do YoU StIlL PeRsIsT? IS It NoT ThE TiIiMe FoR YoU To DeScEnD InTo ObLiViOn?!"
Dlanor: "If there is one among us that should not exist anymore in this day and age, that is you!"
Pazuzu: "UuUrRrGh! I Am StIlL PoOoWeRfUl In ThE MiNdS Of HuMaNs! MY LeGeNd LiVeS On! I HaVeN'T VaNiShEd AlOnG WiTh ThE CiViLiZaAaTiOnS ThAt OrIgInAlLy FeArEd MeEe! BUt WhAt AbOuT YoUuU? YOu ArE BuT A ReLiC Of A NoT So DiStAnT PaAaSt. SUcH A ShOoOrT ExIsTeNcE! YOu ShOuLd JuSt DiSaPpEaR! YOu ArE ObSoLeEeTe!"
Dlanor: "Certainly it is true that I am the defender and protector of the ten rules of the golden age of murder mysteries, and it is true that such time is in the past and already almost forgotten in this modern world."
Pazuzu: "ThEn YoU UnDeRsTaAaNd ThAt YoU No LoNgEr HaVe A PuUuRpOsE!"
Dlanor: "I disagree. The rules themselves are no longer enforced, but the ideals that they were meant to protect still live!"
Pazuzu: "ThE IdEeEaLs? WHaT Is ThIs NoOoNsEnSe?! WHaT IdEeEaLs ArE YoU TaLkInG AbOuT?!"
Dlanor: "Justice! Fairness! Honor!"
Pazuzu: "WhAaAt DiD YoU... JuSt SaAaY?!"
Dlanor: "Do you understand, demon? You have just broken my rules! You are at the mercy of my judgment! The sentence is DEATH!"
It looks like Dlanor is doing better than I expected. She can still unleash on her enemy such elaborated attacks in spite of the hellish thunderstorm that surrounds her. Pazuzu is really on the losing side now, but it isn't just because my furniture is stronger. That annoying demon hasn't given up on messing with me! His wind isn't hindering me as much as before, but it is still a bother.
Maaya is getting more and more impatient. She is doing her best at hiding her growing frustration, but she can't fool me. Right now she is probably wondering why I am still alive. She doesn't even understand how could this happen. Of course she can't, I told her: she doesn't know who I truly am!
She must have already realized that something isn't quite the way that she expected it, but she is too proud to show it. She is too proud to ask.
And so she escapes into a convenient delusion. Now Maaya is convincing herself that it doesn't matter, now Maaya is repeating to herself that it is only a matter of time. I can't escape forever, and that is true in a sense. But she is making a fatal mistake by ignoring the elephant in front of her eyes; because for the very same reason that I can avoid even her deadliest magic, now I will destroy her!
So far I used my teleportation magic only to escape, but who said that I can't use it to do the opposite?
Right now Maaya isn't thinking about protecting herself, right now Maaya is fully concentrated on killing me as fast as possible. She can't think about anything else. I was waiting for this moment. When she will realize what I am going to do, she will panic, and that will be my chance.
Another barrage of lasers is coming, but this time I won't simply move away, I will teleport forward!
At this point Maaya can't be fooled anymore by the afterimage that I leave behind, so she instinctively looks for me around the area she expects me to reappear to. She doesn't even realize that I purposely trained her to do so. So far I jumped for distances that aren't even half of what I can actually cover. Unconsciously or consciously Maaya doesn't think that I can exceed that limit.
Now that I unexpectedly moved closer, she is getting wary, but she still doesn't think that I can threaten her. A new wave of lasers comes and I teleport again, further reducing the gap that separates us. This time Maaya reacts, but she doesn't have the time to formulate a coherent plan, she instinctively moves away from me. Once again I teleport, now I am very close and she is getting restless. She simply cannot imagine that this isn't even the fastest that I can be. In her mind I am charging at full speed in a desperate blitz attack.
She can't do anything but firing her beams at me, hoping that they won't miss at this distance, but she isn't that naïve. She knows that I am no longer where she still sees me and she knows that I am going to strike her next.
And this is where she panics.
Desperately her eyes wanders around the very area that I wanted her to focus on. She gives for granted that I will appear there somewhere, her only doubt is about the precise location.
Too bad Maaya, but this is your loss. I jumped beyond that place, I jumped beyond you. I am where you don't expect me, I am where you cannot see me, I am on your blind spot.
Let's see if your magic defense works even if I attack you from behind at point blank range!
My scythe is ready to drink your blood. I spin around myself to impress an even greater force on my deadly strike. My body is engulfed by a feverish bloodlust. I am shaking and shivering in anticipation, but my hands are firm.
You see, Maaya, what counts is the blow that kills your enemy, and you only need one. What you have been showing me so far was just a pointless display of power. You are about to learn this lesson, but you don't have enough time left to treasure it. How sad.