Well, this morning was rough.

I got home from work, took my friend to work when it was time, came home and played Dead Cells on my switch since I couldn’t go to sleep right away.

During that time, I felt the urge to cry at first, and it was so confusing to me as I couldn’t figure out why.

Letting the tears flow didn’t help how I felt at all.

I’m not sure how long I cried, though I do know it kept coming in waves. After the first time I kept playing my game while crying, hoping that if I had something to take my mind off of the tears that they would go away

 

It never works that way

 

The only thing I can think of that I cried about is the fact that when I’m alone, I feel like I’m no good to anyone. Even though being alone hurts, I still want that time because I know that I need it for my well-being.

Lately I’ve been thinking about reaching out to people, however, what stops me is the fear of what could happen, followed by, the fact that I want to use intimacy as a way of filling the void I feel.

 

Geez, even writing that makes me feel disgusted with myself.

I gotta learn to love myself at some point

hopefully soon…

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Current music: Megaman X: Opening Stage by Huskybythegeek

 

So let’s start with the first thing that comes to mind, since I don’t have my health benefits yet from Bear River I’ll write here some of the internal conversations I’ve had with myself assuming the role of patient and therapist.

 

Music change: Wings of Iron (From the Screw Attack series)

 

I’ve been thinking a lot while at work, sorting through as much as I can, to ascertain where a lot of my more negative feelings come from, as well as, understanding myself as a whole.

I never wanted to be a dad.

I feel like my son, little Isaiah, was brought into this world too early.

Back when Jacquelene told me she was pregnant and we found out that it was the real deal, I only wanted to walk away.

However, because I was there in person with Jacquelene when receiving the news, I cast aside what I truly thought and only went with what ‘the right thing’ felt like at the time.

So her and I were a couple again to be there for our son.

There was A LOT of bumps on the road along the way

Music change: Reincarnation by Morpho from Azure Striker Gunvolt

 

A lot of challenges were expected

Though one of my worst fears crept its way into my life as time went on

For example: Three days after my son was born, Jacquelene, little Isaiah and I went to CVS to get some meds that Jacquelene needed to help her body readjust to not having a baby in her anymore. During that time little Isaiah began to cry while we were waiting in line. After a few minutes of trying to calm him down, Jacquelene asked me to take him to the car and see what he needed.

Music Change: Youngblood by 5 seconds of summer

When I got to the car with little Isaiah, I found out he needed a diaper change, so business as usual right?

Well, the diaper change didn’t stop the crying, and for a moment I felt something snap in me.

So I growled at my own son, through my teeth, to shut up.

Afterwards I immediately caught myself and pushed this anger aside.

I sat in the driver’s seat while holding little Isaiah and he calmed down

Music change: Doomsday Zone/Big Arms from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (metal version by GaMetal)

After around ten minutes of waiting Jacquelene got back to the car and I told her about what happened.

She didn’t really seem fazed by it, or feeling much of anything.

So time rolls along.

That was the first instance I ever felt so angry at my son that I lost myself

There were other times but there’s not much need to elaborate on them

So aside from feeling anxiety the moment my son would cry, there was also the anger toward Jacquelene and her family as well.

Music Change: Hopes and Dreams (GaMetal remix)

I had several outbursts where I would yell at someone or throw things and nobody would ask what they could do to help. They would only ask if I’m okay and if I felt any better.

To me that didn’t strike me as a healthy way of dealing with that situation. I even had dreams of killing Jacquelene and her parents, and even in my dreams they wouldn’t be mad, they would just ask if I felt better.

It was around this time when I started to feel all the more certain that I needed to move out and get myself in a better place.

Even when I would talk to Jacquelene about it, she would just clam up and simply go along with whatever I said or not say anything at all. Eventually she told me it was because she was already doing what I asked and that it still wasn’t good enough for me.

Music Change: ASGORE (GaMetal remix)

So, I moved out and came back to live with one of my good friends from High School.

There was a long period of time that I didn’t see little Isaiah, and part of that was a misunderstanding on both mine and Jacquelene’s part on what she said.

It was about the title to my old Subaru and I asked her to bring it by so I could sign it over, but she said that if little Isaiah saw me that he’d be upset and she didn’t want to do that, since I was no longer allowed on her property.

Music Change: Darkness Nova (GaMetal Remix)

What she didn’t add to that text was that little Isaiah would be upset after seeing me for such a short amount of time.

But I didn’t learn about that bit until my older brother reached out to me and encouraged me to ask Jacquelene if I could see little Isaiah.

Everything was trucking along

Then earlier this year, Jacquelene met a guy and they started dating, that’s all well and good, except when I would pick up little Isaiah, she would tag along so I could drop her off at her new boyfriend’s house.

Okay, I want her to be happy so whatever

Until I got fired from Beverage Plus

Suddenly I had no source of income

Well, I scrambled and got a job at Wal-Mart

Music Change: First Date by Ninja Sex Party

That lasted for about three weeks before I walked out on that job. My reason?

Because on the one hand my supervisors would say to all of us at meetings to give our 100%, even though that translates differently for each person. That’s fine. The kicker was the fact that my supervisor for my shift would, later on that same day, tell all of us that we needed to work faster because of some computer generated spreadsheet said we should be done at a specified time for that day.

Music Change: Danny don’t you know by Ninja Sex Party

So, I went jobless for about two months. At first I still saw little Isaiah, because Jacquelene was willing to front me the money, but after about two times that came to a halt.

I finally got hired at Bear River about a month after being jobless but it took them about another month to get me started working.

Since then, the only time Jacquelene has gotten a hold of me, it has been to ask if I paid child support yet.

Well, I still haven’t seen the little guy and to be truthful, I’m not worried about it. I used to imagine that I’d be an old man would he would track me down and confront me.

Music Change: Bad Apple (Metal cover by RichaadEB)

I’d light a cigarette, and ask him what he wanted. I imagine it would be something along the lines of why I wasn’t there for him. I’d tell him, “Because I could never be a Dad for you, maybe an Uncle, but certainly not a Dad.”

Why?

Because I have a lot of anger inside, and I run away from it constantly. I’m a coward at heart. I try to hide it with what strength I have, but that doesn’t fool people. When I feel like I’ve failed, I don’t believe that I can fix it, unless there’s some way to redo it all from the beginning.

Music Change: Again (Tsuko G cover)

Because I’d rather retry something with my newfound experience rather than continue on knowing that I’m a failure at something.

Sure, little Isaiah isn’t very old now and there’s still time.

But that’s not how I see it.

I failed him before he was even born.

Even now, my own hands are trying to avoid typing all of this by stopping and fidgeting with anything nearby.

I don’t trust anyone to understand how I feel deep down.

The times that I have, it either pushed people away or they were no longer a part of my life, whether by choice or not depends.

Music Change: All star from shrek (Keytar cover by Johnathan Young)

People don’t believe me when I tell them that I’m not all that great of a person. Instead I hear “You’re too nice” or “You’d never actually do that.”

No, I’ve had a lot of dark thoughts. Sure, they don’t mean you’re a ‘bad’ person unless you act on them, though I can assure you, I’ve certainly come close.

I don’t always know who I am, so in my mind, I assume part of someone else’s personality (i.e a favorite character, youtuber I enjoy, or even a close friend) so that I can bring myself to do or say things that will be satisfactory to those around me.

If I let myself loose, I feel like I’d lose control and never come back, that I’d only be watching myself do things.

Music Change: 70cm Shihou no Madobe (ED 10 Cover)

I’ve lived through most of my life thinking that I have several sides to me as a whole

Several different beings with their own intentions and mannerisms

Because I’ve operated under the notion that if the way you are doesn’t currently bring your success, then you have to become something different until you reach your goal.

Though now I just remembered what an old childhood friend used to tell me whenever I’d get nervous while playing video games and start messing up. He’d say, “Believe in yourself Isaiah.”

Whether he was being facetious or not, I’ll never know.

I used to take those words to heart

Music Change: Ultimate Battle by Akira Kushida

I am the cause of like 90% of my problems right now, and I am slowly working to fix them

But that one side of me says it’s not good enough because it’s not an immediate change

Because life if running out and I’m on borrowed time

I’ve felt the sudden tightness in my chest, the inability to breathe, the emotional low of wanting to disappear out of everyone’s lives so I’m no longer a burden. We’re in danger and there’s no time to take it easy, it’s do or die.

And then in my attempt to escape all of that, I wrap myself in whatever thoughts of the past I feel comforted by at the time

Music Change: A Fearsome Foe (Dragon Ball Super)

Even now, I’m afraid to write all of this, because I feel like I’ll be taken advantage of.

Now I don’t know what to say anymore.

Everything has shut down

But I’ve come so far

 

Doesn’t matter

Is it worth it?

So scary

Mentally trying to push the weight that has fallen on top of me

We gotta force our way past this

No

No

No

Come on!

We have to do this

This is the release we wanted

And we’ve done enough

No!

We can go further

Don’t you feel the progress we’ve made?

If we back out now, this weight will just come back down to where it was

It may not solve the problem

Though it will  certainly make a difference

So let’s keep going

We live for the feeling of making comeback right?

Yeah

Reflecting what we’ve been dealt always feels nice

Exactly

Still, I don’t know where to go from here

I feel vulnerable

And I strongly dislike it

I’d rather never show this to anybody if possible

Yet, I know that’s not the right way to do it

Admitting to our faults doesn’t make us weak

I’ll keep trying to live true to myself

Because that’s what I set out to do from the beginning

That moment I realized that inner voice wasn’t someone else

It has been me this whole time

I’ve been afraid to think it was me because this inner voice is so powerful

And yet, I’ve held the key to my own growth

So I’ll show myself where to go

Will it always be the ‘best’ path?

Maybe for me alone it will be

And that’s just fine

Several agonizingly long minutes passed as Zeke sat in shock from Narroth’s appearance, as well as his words about needing to ‘ripen’ more. There was no doubt in Zeke’s mind that Narroth wants him to get stronger, though he couldn’t wrap his head around why Narroth would wait to ‘harvest’ him. Bewildered, Zeke stared at Yazmak’s lifeless body sprawled out before him as he thought about the image of Yazmak’s soul being shattered before his very eyes, “There were so many things I wanted to know. In just moments everything has been turned upside down. What can I possibly do now?”

 

Gritting his teeth, Zeke slammed on the brakes in his swirling thoughts and brought everything to a complete stop. Though physically he was out of breath, Zeke could feel his very spirit was at its brink, ready to follow suit with Yazmak. Resolutely he set his jaw and forced himself over to Barkstripe first. Upon kneeling down he could immediately see that his friend was definitely alive as he tucked his hands underneath Barkstripe’s torso and lifted with his legs to roll Barkstripe over onto his back.

 

Face wrenched from the pain, Barkstripe opened one eye to just a sliver as he looked up at Zeke and rasped, “Thanks for the assist, it was getting a little stuffy. I think I’m just going to lie here for awhile.”

 

 

Zeke waited several moments to see that Barkstripe only closed his eyes and took long, slow breaths but otherwise remained motionless. Then he hurried over to Delairyus, who was now sprawled on the ground on her back, and found that she was still breathing, though unconscious. Getting on all fours, Zeke called out to her, “Delairyus! Wake up, please!”

 

 

 

There was no response, and Zeke reached out with his right hand, placing it on her shoulder to shake her as he was uncertain of what else to do. As soon as his hand made contact with Delairyus, her right hand darted out and clenched Zeke’s wrist with claws digging into his flesh. Her eyes opened with a flash and locked with Zeke’s, rage danced in her gaze before fizzling out as she realized who it was before her. An apologetic look washed over Delairyus’ face as she let go of Zeke’s wrist, “Sorry about that Zeke. I can heal that up right away if you want.”

 

 

 

Though Delairyus’ reflexes shook Zeke, he waved away her offer as he held his lightly bleeding wrist and cracked a weak, reassuring smile, “I’m glad you’re alright Delairyus. You were unconscious so I wanted to make sure you’re okay.”

 

 

 

Instead of smiling back, Delairyus cocked her head to the side, her pupils dialated somewhat from seeing Zeke’s prismatic spirit outlining his body with a slow pulse, “Nevermind that Zeke, you’re at your Soul Shatter point. You need to rest immediately and-”

 

Holding up an index finger with his free hand, Zeke interrupted Delairyus, “That means little to me right this second. I’m going to find Salien and check on her,” Zeke took a moment to look back at Barkstripe, who was still taking deep breaths but otherwise remained motionless, then looked back into Delairyus’ eyes, “Barkstripe is taking time to recover, and you seem to be doing alright. I’ll bring Salien back after making sure she’s alright.”

 

Shooting to her feet, Delairyus gave Zeke a blank stare, her tone was more icy than her stare, “If you insist on being reckless, then I won’t stop you, instead I’ll go with you.” Without looking at Barkstripe, she pointed a thumb at him, “Blockhead over there will be fine on his own, he’s much more durable than he looks at least.”

 

A twinge of guilt hit Zeke from the tone Delairyus gave him, but he swallowed it back as he went to walk past Delairyus, who stopped him by grabbing his injured wrist. A momentary lavender glow covered Zeke’s wrist before Delairyus let go and walked ahead of him without another word. Looking at his newly healed wrist, Zeke sighed to himself in resignation before following after Delairyus.

 

The grim pair hurried through the forest, searching every bush and tree along the way. It was shortly after they commenced their search that Delairyus halted Zeke behind her as she peered around the tree in front of them. Before Zeke could question her, Delairyus mumbled, “I should have guessed they’d show up eventually.” Turning her attention to Zeke she motioned for him to follow her as she stepped out from behind the tree. Following behind, they stepped into a small clearing where nine bunny Anthros were huddled together in front of a particularly large tree with their backs to Delairyus and Zeke.

 

 

Upon approaching the group, one of the bunny Anthros heard their approach with a twitch of an ear and whirled around to face them with a halberd at the ready. “Who goes th-, Oh! Delairyus! I-I didn’t realize that was you. Are you here to investigate the light that was in the sky as well?”

 

 

Zeke gazed upon the person before them, standing at what he figured to be 6′ 3″ with short, grey fur colored this bunny’s entire average-sized body. Stern, magenta eyes locked with Delairyus’ eyes, eagerly awaiting a response. Slowly looking down, Zeke noticed that the bunny in front of them as well as the whole group of bunny Anthros wore the same forest green armor as the guards in Castel City. It was then that he also took note of the white lightening bolt on the breastplate, as well as one on the right leg of every member of the group.

 

 

It was at this time that Delairyus plainly responded, “I saw what happened with the light in the sky.” Casually he pointed a thumb at Zeke, “He was the one who made it.” Then folding her arms over her chest, Delairyus shifted her weight to one side, “I thought that the Thunderfoot squad would have made it out here sooner. What took you so long Sharla?”

 

 

Though Sharla stiffened upon looking at Zeke for the first time, she didn’t miss a beat as she answered, “We were making our way to the source of that light when we came across her.” Turning to one side, Sharla pointed at what her squad was surrounding, revealing that it was Salien slumped over at the base of the tree.

 

 

In a single gasp Zeke’s eyes widened with panic as he went to rush over to Salien as he cried her name, only to be blocked by Sharla’s halberd, “You will go no further. By order of King Dekarius, the Thunderfoot Squad is taking this ‘Salien’ back for medical treatment as well as questioning.”

 

 

There was a twitch of Salien’s ear as she heard her name being called out as she slowly opened her eyes, mumbling, “Zeke, are there?”

 

 

Seeing Salien come to made Zeke push past Sharla as he rushed over to Salien. He immediately got to his knees and embraced her, sobbing, “I’m so glad you’re okay! I-I-” Zeke’s words became incomprehensible as he cried and buried his face in her snowy white fur.

 

A weak smile spread on Salien’s face as she mumbled, “There there Zeke, everything will be alright.” She gargled a moment from Zeke squeezing just a little too hard, which made her urge Zeke to let go of her as she caught her breath.

 

 

Delairyus looked to Sharla, “I can take you to where the fight happened and update you on what’s going on.” Her gaze shifted to Salien and Zeke, “This way everyone can get the rest they need.”

 

Nodding in understanding, Sharla stomped the ground with her right foot several times in succession, causing the other eight in her squad to stand at attention as she said, “We’re going to follow Delairyus to where the light came from, let’s move!”

 

 

The group surrounding Salien and Zeke followed after Delairyus and Sharla while Zeke kept fussing over Salien as she reassured him that she could move just fine, that she only needed to catch her breath. When the group reached the area where they were attacked by Narroth, Barkstripe slowly sat up to see his companions had brought more than they bargained for back with them. A sly smile cracked on his face, “Seems you guys found more friends while you were away.”

 

He slowly scanned the group and tsked, “If it isn’t the Thunderfoot Squad, Dekarius’ most bragged about group of scouts, what hole are you guys digging for the King this time?”

 

 

Salien and Zeke sat down near Barkstripe while Delairyus gestured for Sharla and her squad to join them as Sharla’s questioning gaze went from Yazmak’s lifeless body to the torn up ground from Zeke’s blast, “It’s going to get dark soon, and we may as well camp here for the night while we tell you about what has happened.”

 

Despairing at being ignored, Barkstripe mock wailed, “Oh sure, just ignore the fox! I see how it is!”

 

 

Salien and Zeke smiled to themselves upon hearing Barkstripe’s words while Delairyus and the rest made a fire and sat in a circle around it while the details of the past few nights were discussed.

 

 

Night turned to day and everyone was up and about as though nothing has happened, except for Zeke. When he awakened, one of the first things he laid eyes on was Yazmak’s corpse, which served as a stark reminder of recent events. This made his heart sink to stomach as he rolled over to look away, only to see everyone else already moving around while he continued to lay there. He jumped when there was a sudden voice of protest from Salien, “So you’re just going to run off with him to who knows where? Do you really think you can protect him on your own?”

 

Salien was speaking to Delairyus, whom calmly stood before Salien, seemingly unphased by her words, except for the flicking of her tail as Zeke noticed, “Zeke needs to be trained, and properly I might add. He clearly has a lot to learn, which he will not as long as you and Barkstripe are around to coddle him at every turn. Narroth isn’t the only danger on Stormhaven as a whole and if Zeke is to stop him, then he has to grow up in time.”

 

 

Before a punch could be thrown, Barkstripe was there to stop Salien as he gave her a reassuring smile, “You’ve seen it yourself Salien, Delairyus here can do far more than even I can, though I LOATHE to admit it, and if we’re only going to be in the way, then we’ll have to take her word for it.”

 

 

Growling in frustration Salien turned away from Delairyus, “Fine, then I’d better say something to Zeke before we go.”

 

 

Seeing Salien’s approach, Zeke slowly sat up as he stretched with a yawn, “What’s going on Salien? Is everything okay?”

 

 

Upon kneeling down, Salien embraced Zeke and began to stroke his hair, “Everything is alright Zeke. Barkstripe and I are going back with the Thunderfoot Squad to report to the King about what has happened here. Delairyus is going to look after you in the meantime, so be strong for me okay?”

 

 

Though he was puzzled by her words, Zeke squeezed in response, “Okay Salien, hurry back as soon as you can.”

 

 

Salien gave a hearty squeeze of her own before letting Zeke go and getting to her feet. Upon following suit, Zeke watched her approach the awaiting Squad with Barkstripe giving a strangely nervous smile of his own as he weakly waved goodbye before turning around to leave. Delairyus caught Zeke’s attention as she sauntered up to him, with what felt to Zeke like a predatory gaze, “So, we have a mission of our own that requires our immediate attention.”

 

 

Swallowing back the building anxiety that now shrieked in his mind, Zeke asked his question slowly to keep his voice from breaking, “What exactly do you mean?”

 

 

Recognizing the building tension that Zeke was hiding, Delairyus gave him a warm smile, “Why, to train you of course!” She stood at arms length from him, still smiling, “So we’re starting now, attack me.”

 

 

Taken aback by her command, Zeke stared her with eyes ready to pop out of his head, “Y-you mean n-n-now?! I-I don’t want to hurt you though!”

 

 

Delairyus chuckled, which only served to make Zeke shiver in fear, as she urged once more, “I’ll block your attacks, trust me. I want to see for myself what you can do, so please, take a swing.”

 

 

Gritting his teeth, Zeke turned all of his anxiety to anger as he took a boxing stance, “Alright then, you asked for this.”

 

 

Starting with his left, Zeke jabbed at Delairyus as she blocked with ease while making a point to lock eyes with him. Grunting with effort, Zeke jabbed with his right hand this time, only to be blocked in the same manner as before. Re-assuming his stance, Zeke took a moment to think about his next move with a short “Hmm.” It was then that Zeke took a step forward as he did a steady one-two-three jabbing combo, which was effortlessly blocked by his opponent.

 

Getting back into stance, Zeke once again took a moment to consider his next move as Delairyus chimed, “Give me all you’ve got Zeke! You can throw in some kicks too!”

 

 

A quick nod was all the response Zeke gave before punching with all he had in a four punch combo and a follow-up roundhouse kick. Un-phased, Delairyus blocked every strike without retaliating in any way. This was something that Zeke grew increasingly irritated with as he focused more on punching and kicking than putting together a plan. In seconds, Zeke was feeling winded, forcing him to stop his would-be assault. There was no hint in Delariyus’ eyes or her stoic expression that hinted at any bit of fatigue.

 

 

There was a twitch of Delariyus’ left ear only a moment before her left fist shot out and connected with Zeke’s jaw. The force of the blow harmlessly staggered him, much to Zeke’s surprise, and he turned his head just in time to see a twitch of her right ear this time before her right fist knocked him in the jaw. Focusing on keeping his breathing in a steady rhythm, Zeke got himself back into his boxing stance as he readied himself for Delairyus’ next attack.

 

 

Once again there was a twitch of Delairyus’ ear that corresponded with the punch she was going to throw, which Zeke felt prepared for but still felt the blow connect with his jaw. This time the shock of being struck was far less for him as he blocked the next blow just in time. Gaining some confidence, Zeke managed to block several more strikes consecutively. As if she could sense the hope building inside of him, Delairyus shifted tactics, now twitching the opposite ear of the side she would strike with. It was enough to throw Zeke off for several strikes before he caught on to the change and blocked her oncoming punches.

 

 

Now Delairyus had a glint in her eye the made Zeke’s widen in anticipation as she began to throw feints in with her punches, as well as aiming for his stomach. Though Zeke was fully on the defensive, he couldn’t read Delairyus’ movements as she continued to knock him around. Though it felt like an eternity, mere seconds passed when Delairyus punched Zeke with enough force to make him double over, following up with a sweeping kick to knock him flying off of his feet, then swinging herself in a full circle to kick Zeke and send him careening through the air for several feet before sliding to a stop on the ground.

 

Patiently she stood with arms folded as she watched Zeke get up on one knee and take several deep breaths before glaring at Delairyus. The intent in his eyes was clear as he slowly aimed his charging Buster at her. Their gazes locked with each other for a moment, allowing Zeke to see the curious joy now in Delairyus’ eyes before he let loose his charged blast. To his chagrin however, the blast was easily side-stepped. Instead of coming up with a plan, Zeke tried again and he belted out a cry of frustration as his blast from his Ion Buster was once again side-stepped by Delairyus. Her stocky feline body was only a cover for how agile she is, which aggravated Zeke more. All that showed in Deliaryus’ lavender eyes was an expectation for more.

 

 

 

Taking a deep breath, Zeke took a moment to focus on his self-imposed task of not only hitting Delairyus with, but to also make sure it hurt, a lot. Having been attempting this for what felt like an hour, Zeke’s patience was at an all time limit. Having been jerked around, figuratively and literally, in his last few encounters as well as learning about his importance in what felt like life itself, he desperately wanted to feel that he was still in control of his own life.

 

 

 

As he slowly let out his held breath, Zeke began to rapid fire at Delairyus, shooting everywhere he felt that Delairyus would be. In the blink of an eye, Delairyus became nothing but a blur as she danced around each shot fired at her. In what felt like a gesture to add insult to injury, Delairyus would pose just long enough for Zeke to observe as she continued to avoid each shot.

 

 

Reaching his limit, Zeke screamed, “That’s it!”

 

 

 

In a flash, Zeke summoned his Prismatic blade to his free hand before rushing headlong at Delairyus, leading the way with his Buster that was still firing. His vision focused solely on his target, who was still evading with ease, and nothing else mattered in his mind. When he closed the distance between them, Zeke thrust his sword at Delairyus, aiming to impale her through the abdomen.

 

 

 

Suddenly there was a clawed hand gripping his wrist, which ripped Zeke out of this tunnel vision to see that Delairyus was standing to the side of Zeke, her outstretched arm grasped Zeke’s wrist. There was a fury in her eyes that made Zeke’s widen with fear and realization at what had transpired. In what felt like a bucket of ice water, guilt and sorrow washed over Zeke when it occurred to him what he tried to do.

 

 

 

 

Zeke let go of his sword, causing it to fade away as Delairyus continued to hold his arm at the wrist. Her gaze didn’t move from Zeke as she slowly approached, “This is what I want to work on with you. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are at anything if you let such rampant emotions drive your actions.”

 

 

 

The seriousness in Delairyus’ voice reminded Zeke of someone who is teaching a child, which deepened Zeke’s guilt. Unable to meet her eyes, Zeke lowered his gaze to the ground. With her free hand, Delairyus held up Zeke’s head to meet his eyes, the fury in her eyes was replaced with deep concern, “During the real thing, you have to remain focused, the moment you lose control of your emotions is when the enemy has already won. There are times when those feelings can help drive you forward, however, they can’t be the very fuel behind your actions.”

 

 

 

 

Blinking away the tears welling up in his eyes, Zeke weakly asked, “Then what am I supposed to do? How can I defend myself if every living thing here can so easily overpower me?”

 

 

 

 

A playful smirk found its way on Delairyus’ lips, “The answer to that is a process, and it’s going to start with you learning to have better control of your emotions. It’s one thing to simply feel determined to accomplish a goal, then to hone that feeling into something deadly takes practice. In my previous battles I’ve learned how to do that for myself, and I’m going to teach you what I know and find what works for you. You’ll have plenty of times where you feel like you do now, there’s no avoiding that, and it will all lead to the point where you can do the same things I can.”

 

 

 

Excitement glittered in Zeke’s eyes, “You mean, I’ll be able to turn into a blur like you and Barkstripe?”

 

 

 

Delairyus giggled, “The way that jock-strap moves is far different from how I do it, and it’s that very reason that he can’t beat me.”

 

 

 

In that moment Delairyus embraced Zeke, imparting a genuine feeling of comfort over him, even though the tips of her ears poked his chin. Hugging her back, Zeke took it all in, feeling like everything was right in the world for that moment. As soon as the feeling came, it was gone as Delairyus stepped away, a look of grim determination painted her face as their eyes locked onto each other.

 

 

 

 

Zeke didn’t like the idea of what was to come next but he knew he had to hear Delairyus’ words as he swallowed back the building fear. “From now on while I’m training you Zeke, things are going to get very difficult. I don’t want to have to put you through so much, except there isn’t much choice. If you really want to learn from me, you need to be ready to go through hell. Do you think you’re prepared?”

 

 

 

 

Though he wanted to spout out the word ‘Yes!’, the word caught in his throat as his instincts soaked in every implication behind Delairyus’ words. Visions of anger, pain, and suffering flashed through Zeke’s mind, and the fear of it all happening clawed at him. Inside all of the negative feelings that stormed through him, at the epicenter was a feeling of hope. It was enough to shine through and allow Zeke to have the courage to nod with a grim look of his own as he heavily responded, “I’m as ready as I will ever be.”
A warm smile crept over Deliaryus’ face momentarily before disappearing as she said, “Then let’s not waste any time.”

A growing tension began to build in the air around everyone as the shock from Delairyus defeating Yazmak so easily settled in. Still staring at Zeke, waiting for a response, Delairyus shifted her weight to one foot as she crossed her arms, her face clearly asking, ‘Don’t you have something to say?’

 
Zeke shook his head to bring himsel back to the present, his eyes grew wide when it occurred to him what Delairyus was referring to, which made Zeke stumble on his words, “R-right, the whole exsis-, exsi-, the-the reason why thing.”

 
There was a muffled chuckle from Yazmak as his face was still in the ground, and lifted himself just enough to speak clearly as he asked in almost disbelief, “Still having trouble doing things on your own Zeke? I can already see why-”

 

 
Yazmak was abruptly cutoff by Delairyus’ foot shoving his head back down into the ground. With a frustrated grunt, Yazmak reached for Delairyus’ foot, but she stepped back in time to avoid his grasp, which also gave him enough time to sit upright and stare directly at Zeke, “You really want to know why I kept you working on the same projects? Or why I kept bringing you back?”

 

 
Snorting with distaste, Yazmak continued without waiting for any kind of response, “Every time you were brought back into this world, you would have a different perspective on your S.W.O.R.D armor and Reishigi Siphon projects. At first, it was all an idea to test the S.W.O.R.D armor on animals before use on humans, which later turned into an idea to simply improve the equipment on the animals, making them smarter, stronger and so on. The Reishigi Siphon was at first intended to be used as a means of making humanity immortal through the ability of switching from one body to the next. By accident it was discovered that the Siphon worked on those who have already long passed as well, which led to further ideas, as well as the beginnings of the ‘Sandman Virus’. Of course word got out about the testing, so there was a lot of contreversy, which led to an untimely death on your part.”

 
A look of horror scrunched Zeke’s face as he tried to digest Yazmak’s words. Salien protectively held Zeke to her, the fire in her gaze was ready to sear through anything she locked her eyes onto, which was Yazmak’s cool expression. Barkstripe finally caught his breath and stumbled over to Salien and Zeke, a deep and pondering sadness painted his face as he recalled the times he was there for Zeke’s ‘resurrection’. Another mirthless chuckle came from Yazmak when his gaze hovered over Barkstripe, Delairyus and Salien, then he stated, “Of course, in one of Zeke’s lifetimes he was successful in making your Anthro bodies. With every success came more controversy over what was ‘ethical’ and ‘humane’. It didn’t matter if everything was aimed toward bettering humanity in any way.”

 

 
Barkstripe and Delairyus both looked lost in clearly forgotten dark memories as Salien and Zeke shared a look of concern for their friends. Yazmak grunted in disdain, “This then led to the Anthro Wars, on top of the advances in the S.W.O.R.D armor that became part of our military forces and some civilian labor forces as well. The Reishigi Siphon then became a highlight for ‘renewable’ energy. Instead of creating more Anthros, it was decided that the focus be geared toward improving the lives of those who were still with us. To this day, the Siphon technology has been very useful.”

 

 

Though Zeke attempted to break away from Salien’s arms to show his contempt toward Yazmak, which gave Zeke the courage to speak clearly, only managed to wiggle around to face Yazmak directly, “It’s no wonder that Narroth was able to yank people’s souls from their bodies! The Reishigi Siphon was only meant for use by the military and local law enforcement, not some common battery that people pump a chunk of their soul into!”

 
Stepping in Barkstripe asked, “I thought it was proven that anyone would recover from using the Siphon technology?”

 
Rubbing his temples in frustration, Zeke grumbled, “Yes, full recovery was always expected, but the time needed for that would leave a person in a weakened state, especially without the proper training, which if Narroth really got his hands on the Siphon technology, means he would have free reign to completely drain unsuspecting people.” Zeke stopped to think for a moment before continuing, “Yet somehow Narroth has managed to take all of his victims from across the Veil.”

 
Stunned, Barkstripe gazed at the ground as he could only manage to say, “Oh.”

 
Nodding, Yazmak agreed, “Yes, this was why the Siphon technology was replaced with different variations of Zeke’s S.W.O.R.D techonolgy. Though it still required a person to use their own Reishigi, the technology itself wasn’t as demanding or straightforward in cost, allowing for wider application of its technology, from vehicles to personal suits.” Pausing a moment, Yazmak pondered out loud with his words still directed at Zeke, “I thought you were aware of what was happening in the outside world with your technology. My demands could not have taken so much of your time that you hardly left your own house?”

 
Salien growled and spat at Yazmak as she tightened her embrace on Zeke, “You have no idea how much Zeke poured himself into his work! He was so concerned with making sure he completed every project for you that he never thought to do anything else! I would have to remind him of his own needs just so he wouldn’t starve himself to death from working too much!”

 
Yazmak harrumphed, “That’s Zeke’s fault for not taking care of himself. He clearly needed a baby sitter and you, Salien, fit the role perfectly it seems, especially since Barkstripe wasn’t there to inspire Zeke into being rebellious anymore.”

 
It was Barkstripe’s turn to be frustrated as his eyes flared to life with green flames and bared his teeth, “I only wanted Zeke to think for himself! The fact that he would disagree with you at all should have been an indicator for you Yazmak, that you aren’t always right! You must have been so thrilled to be rid of me and all other Anthros on Earth when the war came to a close!”

 
In a sudden outburst of laughter, Yazmak said, “If you are so opposed to me, then why would you even take orders from me for so many years? To get to Zeke? Because you could have done that on your own! What are you really after Barkstripe?”

 
There was a building silence as everyone’s attention turned to Barkstripe, who’s eyes were no longer flaring with emerald light, but his teeth remained bared, though his tone carried a touch of defeat, “I’m not entirely sure anymore. So many years have passed that I don’t know what I’m fighting for exactly.” With clawed hands curled into tight fists, Barkstripe raised a shaking fist at Yazmak, “This does not mean that I will stop fighting. I’ll go wherever my instincts lead me.”

 
Clearly amused by this, Yazmak heartily laughed more, “It’s no wonder you never came to get Zeke on your own! To live with such a vague ideal like yours, you’ll never accomplish anything!”

 
This time when Zeke tried to move out of Salien’s embrace, she let him go, causing Zeke to stumble a moment as he got to his feet. In a display of what Zeke felt was bravery, he walked over to Yazmak and stood over the hulking dragon-man that had been the closest thing to a father that Zeke could claim to have, staring Yazmak down as Zeke aimed his slowly charging Ion Buster at Yazmak’s face and demanded, “Why have you kept bringing me back? Am I even really Zeke? Who am I and what is it you really want from me?

 
Whether or not Yazmak was even phased by Zeke’s threat, it didn’t show as his face went stone cold. Unmoving, Yazmak matched Zeke’s gaze as he calmly replied, “Who you really are, is a dragon named Zekendrion who is a being made of seven different dragons merging into one. As for what I want from you, I want you to keep balance in every universe, and to do that, you have to destroy Narroth.”

 

Delairyus stood next to Zeke, her curiosity clearly piqued, though the threat in her eyes was clear as day as she asked, “Every universe? Do you mean to say that every realm of Stormhaven is actually connected to an entire universe?”

 
Barkstripe and Salien exchanged wary glances at the new information, however Zeke didn’t budge with his buster still aimed at Yazmak as he said, “Or it could some story to throw us off and make us want to follow orders again. I only give credence to the dragon thing because it confirms what Erikalika has told us. However, stopping Narroth is only a priority to me because he has threatened my friends. And I thought you sent me here originally to obtain new technology to save everyone on Earth? Was it all just a lie?”

 

 

Calmly, Yazmak replied, “Not entirely. The technology here may be far more advanced than what is on Earth, but this may only be limited to certain Sectors.” For once Yazmak seemed lost in far away memories as his gaze clouded over from the deep thought. When Delairyus cleared her throat, Yazmak visibly jumped with wide eyes, but steeled his expression moments afterward and added, “Narroth has been a threat for eons, continuing to grow in power. Yet, the one thing keeping him from shaping everything according to his will, is you Zeke.”

 

 

Though Zeke could see in Yazmak’s eyes that he is telling the truth, his heart didn’t want to accept what he’s been told. After having gone through so many explanations and half-truths, Zeke couldn’t bring himself to simply nod and take Yazmak’s words at face value. Still charging his buster, which now crackled with snaking bolts of energy from the extended concentration, Zeke seethed at Yazmak, “And what makes you think I should believe you? How do I know you aren’t involved in Narroth’s plans in any way? Why wait till now to tell me such vital information?”

 
There was a chilling, yet charmingly deep voice behind everyone that called out, “Believing Yazmak or not, is completely up to you Zeke. Though I should add it is rather rude to talk about someone behind their back, wouldn’t you agree?”

 
Everyone turned their attention to the voice and in a breif moment of unity exclaimed, “Narroth!”

 
Barkstripe and Salien both got into a stance, ready to pounce on Narroth, who stood confidently within arms reach of them, as Zeke aimed his furiously charging buster at Narroth while Delairyus only flicked her tail in irritation. Yazmak slowly stood, his whole body was clearly tense as he stared Narroth down and threatened, “You must be asking to be killed here and now for you to have shown up at this moment.”

 

 

A cruel, toothy smile spread over Narroth’s face as he held out his arms pleadingly, “Please don’t hurt me yet, I have only come to be a part of your conversation. This way I can directly clear up anything that needs some,” He paused to look Zeke in the eye, “light shed on it.”

 

 

Holding up a finger as a thought came to him, Narroth added, “Oh! Maybe something like, my whole grand plan and how I’m going to do it? I can monologue for awhile and pretend to not take note of every one of you plotting your next move and act surprised when you attack all at once and then an arduous battle will ensue where in the end I limp away, shaking my fist at you saying something like ‘Next time will be different!’ Or….”

 

 

Trailing off in thought, everyone looked to each other as Narroth remained frozen, caught mid-sentence. Spreading his feet, Zeke used his free hand to brace his trembling buster arm as he cried out, “Eat this!”

 

 
Firing off the long sustained charge blast created a blazing orb light the size of a semi-truck that headed right for Narroth, ripping up the ground beneath it as it raced to its target. Nobody moved as they were overcome with shock at the sight of Zeke’s creation, except for Narroth, who held out a hand and completely halted the blast. Puzzled, Narroth asked, “You want me to eat this? I somehow doubt it’s healthy, though one could say it’s a, oh what do humans call it? Ah right, a light snack!”

 

 

Laughing uncontrollably at his own joke, Narroth tossed the blast into the air high above them where it exploded before fading away. Deciding to follow-up, Barkstripe and Salien swung their swords at Narroth, who just as suddenly as he began to laugh, sprung into action by grabbing the back of Barkstripe’s head with blinding speed and slammed him into the ground, making an indent in the ground in the shape of Barkstripe’s body. Like a blur, Narroth moved to Salien, jabbing his first two fingers into her abdomen, robbing her lungs of air as he tossed her backwards and into the trees out of their sight. Without moving except with a flick of his tail Narroth sent an attacking Delairyus flying into a nearby tree, knocking her out cold as he muttered, “Bad kitty, thinking you’re so sneaky.”

 

 

Then Narroth zipped past Zeke to grab Yazmak by the neck and hold him aloft as Narroth asked, “Do you think you’d eventually be able to forgive Yazmak? Whether he was dead or alive? Would it be easier if he was dead? What do you think?”

 
Speechless, Zeke couldn’t think of any sort of response as he watched in horror. With a shrug Narroth answered his own question, “Dead would be easier I think. Then you can have your own image of him to cope with this oh so tragic loss. Plus I need something from him anyways so I guess asking was rather pointless in the end wasn’t it?”

 

 

 

Looking to Zeke for any kind of response, Narroth blinked several times before rolling his eyes, “Come on, you don’t have some inspirational words? You’re not gonna scream ‘synchronize’ and go all-out on me?” Shrugging again, Narroth added, “Well, that’s all the same to me. At least this way is faster.”

 

 
Several gurgling sounds escaped from Yazmak as the iris’ in his eyes shattered, leaving only pure white in their place. Afterwards, Narroth tossed Yazmak’s body at Zeke’s feet and cheerily asked, “See? Isn’t this better? Now you don’t have to take orders, and you certainly don’t have to worry about being lied to anymore either. Well, there are those who love to lie, I’m not one of them, so that point is moot, but hey, who cares? Now you can do whatever you want!”

 

 

In shock, Zeke fell to his knees with his jaw hanging as far down as it would go as he managed to choke out the words, “W-what ab-about everyone else?”

 

 

Snorting in disgust, Narroth replied, “They’ll be fine, I only rendered them unable to fight as it seems you still need them unfortunately.” Narroth focused his delighted, icy stare on Zeke, making him quake with fear as Narroth evilly smiled, “You need to ripen more before I can properly harvest you, and to that end, your-” He paused to find what he could deem as the appropriate word for Zeke’s friends, and spat with insinuation, “partners.”

 

 

Internally Zeke wailed at himself, trying to move any part of himself that he could to break free of the terror that gripped him. There was no words that came forth, no wellspring of emotions to counteract his panic, Zeke could only stare in disbelief at the crimson reptilian figure before him and the piercing sapphire eyes that bore their way to his very core. Seemingly satisfied with himself, Narroth strode over to Zeke and pat him on the head while coyly saying, “Fret not little one, when the time is right, we’ll have our little dance together when you’re ready.” Bending to whisper in Zeke’s ear, Narroth continued, “And I really can’t wait till that day, so please, do make haste.”

 

 

Narroth’s words sounded like a lover begging for satisfaction, which made Zeke shiver all the more. Standing upright, Narroth looked around to admire his handiwork before walking away, whistling an upbeat tune to himself as he faded away into the wind.

 

 

With immense effort, Zeke was able to manage one small thought to himself, “What am I going to do now?”

Recently I have been feeling this tightness that restricts my breathing. It only seems to occur when I’m feeling an extreme low point, which has also been frequent. When these times happen, I can get myself back up to a point where I’ll be okay for the rest of the day, my point in this case however, is the frequency of these occurrences.

Ordinarily, I would only feel this low point every so often when something really awful happens i.e bad news, crappy customers, the unavoidable sort of things. Instead, I’ll get to work starting at these low points, the kind where I ponder very seriously on walking out of that store, driving somewhere high enough up, and making that jump. Because of the division in my own brain, I know that I wouldn’t actually do that until every section agreed on that, which has been eerily close to happening.

 

I have even had to consciously resist the urge to lash out at customers when they ask for a bag AFTER their transaction, since CA charges for bags now, and I feel like a lot of customers knowingly do this. Of course, this is but one of many things that somehow shoves me to that point. Sometimes when a customer asks for smokes, chew, or even a pint of alcohol, since those are all behind the counter, I mumble to myself, only loud enough so nobody hears, about how much I dislike that person.

 

During these lows, I try to remember what I’ve been told from friends, as well as what I have learned on my own.

 

Unfortunately when I think of self care during these times, it doesn’t always involve a reasonable solution, for instance, get more water and some form of caffeine, rather, I want to yell at or chase away customers so as to rid myself of their presence and thus achieve peace.

 

Grrr, and now i’m struck fatigue.

 

At least writing this out helped a tiny degree

I don’t feel worthy of my own attention

Every time I feel down, I tell myself that I need to forget about it, that there are so many others around me experiencing a sadness that could overwhelm what I feel.

I’ve grown to think that if I help others enough, that if I bring enough happiness to those around me, that they’ll have the solutions to my sadness, the answers will become clear.

Rarely has that been the case

And that’s not because anyone I care for doesn’t want to help in return, it’s that they want to know what I think so that they may be able to understand.

I don’t really know what I think

I simply feel  most of the time.

As though my own gut reaction to everything will always bring me to the best solution, when in fact, I habitually find the most difficult path to a solution.

I’m writing now as a way to externalize the thoughts and feelings I have had of late, as well as partially catalog some of the theories I have come up with in recent history.

In some of my talks with friends or co-workers, I analyze the things I say, the phrasing I use, the amount of feeling I put behind my words, and I’ve come across a noticeable variance in how I interact from one individual to another.

That in itself doesn’t really matter, the issue at hand is trying to understand myself and come up with a solution of my own.

I’ve been told time and time again to make myself happy and once I can do that, I will be ready to make others happy. But when I take the time to really ponder on what I can do to be happy, I draw a blank, it’s as though the idea of making myself happy is beyond understanding.

Hell, when I want to cook for myself, I feel really down and tell myself that I’m not worth the time and effort for that. So I resort to fast food.

Now that has become a near poison to my body in the sense that I get acid re-flux regularly from it. Which in the long run, it’s good that my body is giving me a signal, but it still hasn’t brought me much closer to wanting to really help myself as it now has become more of a necessity rather than a desire.

want to improve, to make myself happy, to heal my own pains.

But it’s all so much.

I can’t be worth all of that effort.

Barkstripe and Salien glanced at each other before turning their attention back to Zeke with expressions like they were seeing him for the first time. Delairyus seemed tense as well, though she remained seated to keep observing the scenario before her. Erikalika calmly sipped on his tea, un-phased by Yazmak’s appearance. Zeke donned his S.W.O.R.D armor and began to charge his buster like a clenched fist at his side, his repressed anger pinching every muscle in his face as he seethed, “You kept making me work on the same experiments over and over, all just because you wanted to keep me close. Why didn’t you ever tell me the truth? I did everything for you and the sake of humanity! What was the point of it all if I had to come here to Stormhaven? Not even just that! But the fact that I’m some ‘heir’ to this Council that has been working behind the scenes of life itself and I’m supposed to just accept responsibility for it? Tell me all you know, right fucking now!
Yazmak matched Zeke’s glare but remained silent, building an unbearable amount of tension in the room. Breaking the silence, sapphire flames trailed out of Yazmak’s mouth as he growled with narrowed eyes, “You dare to challenge me boy? I doubt you can back your aggression towards me!”

Barkstripe, Delairyus, and Salien all stood at Zeke’s side as he didn’t back down, “I’ve got friends here who think differently.”

Salien chimed in with determination set in her jaw, “That’s right! This time you won’t take Zeke from us!”

Folding his arms while giving Yazmak a side-long glance, Barkstripe added, “Damn straight! We’re the ones who will put you in your place!”

A dangerous smile spread over Delairyus’ face, “I agree with lunkhead here for once, this is a battle you’re going to lose.”

Yazmak smiled, “It seems you’ve been reaching out Zeke. Let’s see how far you’ve come then!”
With a whirl of his glaive, Yazmak enveloped the five of them in a sapphire glow and transported them back to the surface. Immediately after doing so, Yazmak rushed at Zeke with his spear ready at his side. Caught by suprise, Zeke released his charge blast at Yazmak while Barkstripe followed Yazmak’s lead and bolted forward, with Delairyus and Salien standing guard ahead and to the side of Zeke. Yazmak caught Zeke’s blast with the end of his glaive and guided it back towards Barkstripe who was leading his charge with an upward swing of his broadsword. When their weapons clashed, the energy from Zeke’s blast exploded, sending the unguarded Barkstripe skidding backwards into a prone position, allowing Yazmak to continue forward unhindered. Salien pulled out Zeke’s Masamune and was next to push forward with covering fire from Zeke. Yazmak expertly flicked away each shot fired at him with his spear while he still advanced, Salien leapt up several feet and clashed with Yazmak’s glaive.

This time when he shoved Salien away with his glaive she only somersaulted backwards to keep herself in Yazmak’s path, allowing her to strike at him once again. Yazmak deflected Salien’s attacks with ease, though Salien remained airborne from the sheer force of their weapons making contact. Zeke keep firing at Yazmak only to have each blast deflected while he fended off Salien’s barrage of attacks. Delairyus calmly observed everything before her, picking apart every detail in her mind. Barkstripe got up and in a flash he jumped into the fray, attacking Yazmak from behind this time. As he came down with an overhead strike, Barkstripe’s blade was blocked by Yazmak’s butt end of his glaive. With an unearthly speed, Yazmak simulataineously blocked Barkstripe, Salien and Zeke’s attacks with ease.

Delairyus’ voice whispered in Zeke’s head, “Concentrate your attacks and charge your boosters, when I give the signal get in Yazmak’s face and let him have it. I’m going in.”

Though Zeke was caught off guard by the sudden voice in his head, he quietly obeyed and began to charge his buster as well as his boosters. Barkstripe and Salien continued their assault while Delairyus strolled forward, showing no sign of readying an attack. Yazmak went on the offensive and dug the blunt of his glaive into Barkstripe’s gut and lifted him up. In one swift motion Yazmak slammed Barkstripe into Salien as he followed through with his attack and brought them to the ground on top of each other. As he went for the killing blow, Delairyus appeared to the side of Yazmak, kicking him in the face with enough force to stagger him. In that instant, Delairyus cried out in Zeke’s mind, “Now!”

In that moment, Zeke flew faster than he thought possible, for that breif time everything was only a blur of color, with only Yazmak in his focus. Barreled into Yazmak, taking him to the ground as he shoved his Buster into Yazmak’s face while yelling, “Eat this!”

There was a small flash as Zeke’s Buster fired on Yazmak’s face.

Everyone froze, unsure of the outcome but it was Delairyus who grabbed everyone’s attention as she called out, “Get back Zeke! He’s far from being done!”

Before Zeke could react, Yazmak’s clawed hand grabbed ahold of him by the neck as he stood up with no visible sign of damage to his face. Holding Zeke aloft, Yazmak cruely smiled, “It seems this armor hasn’t done you much good Zeke, how about I get rid of it for you?”

Using his free hand, Yazmak ripped the front chestplate of Zeke’s armor off, causing prismatic bolts of lightening to cover Zeke’s body as they shot out of his armor while he cried out in pain. This went on for several seconds before Yazmak finally ripped off the chest plate, causing the rest of it to forcefully disengage and fall to the ground. Exhausted from the pain, Zeke dangled in Yazmak’s grip, his eyes only half seeing the world before him. Seeing Zeke in his now helpless state made Yazmak’s face go cold as he huffed in disappointment through his nose, “Useless whelp.”

Without a second thought, Yazmak heaved Zeke to one side before turning his attention to Delairyus. Salien managed to catch Zeke before he hit the ground, cradling him as she cooed, “I’ve got you Zeke, you’re going to be alright.”

Barkstripe gritted his teeth as he got up with one arm over his abdomen, his breathing ragged as he still needed to finish catching his breath. Delairyus called after Barkstripe, “Take a breather meathead, I’ll handle this one.”

Yazmak raised an eyebrow at her, “You intend to fight me alone? What happened to fighting together with everyone?”

Shrugging, Delairyus evenly responded, “Sometimes it doesn’t always work that way. I can handle someone like you though.”
Unamused, Yazmak charged at Delairyus with blinding speed, closing the distance between them within a second. In the next instant, Yazmak swung his glaive, aiming for her ribs, but instead Delairyus grabbed ahold of the blade of the glaive as it went harmlessly by and used the momentum to swing herself up and give Yazmak’s face a staggering roundhouse kick. Instead losing his balance, Yazmak rolled with the blow, twirling his massive body to catch Delairyus with one of his wings while using the bottom end of his glaive to weaken Delairyus. Without missing a beat, Delairyus caught the incoming attack with both hands and instead of stopping herself, she lunged to the ground while still clinging to Yazmak’s weapon, digging her heels into the surface.

Yazmak responded by holding her up while she was still clasping onto his glaive and spun her around. Without Yazmak noticing, Delairyus used the motion to slide herself closer to Yazmak and in a flash she wrapped her legs around Yazmak’s head as she leaned backwards, causing Yazmak to bend painfully backwards as he held onto his glaive. They remained in this pose for several seconds before Delairyus pushed off of Yazmak, taking his glaive with her. Instead of using the glaive for herself, Delairyus flung it at Salien and Zeke, making sure it dug into the ground next to them.

The now unarmed Yazmak mirthlessly smiled and took a boxing stance, his deadly gaze fixated on Delairyus, who didn’t react at the sight of Yazmak and tensed herself for her next move. In a blur, Delairyus rushed forward, appearing before Yazmak’s eyes with her right fist cocked back for a solid punch to the face. Yazmak threw out a quick jab with his left to stop her in her tracks only to connect with air as the visage in front of him faded away. The real Delairyus had slid between Yazmak’s legs, clawing his genitals along the way. This caused Yazmak’s knees to buckle, so when Delairyus grabbed ahold of Yazmak’s tail, it was much easier for her to yank him backwards and off balance. Taking the opportunity, Delairyus leapt at Yazmak and grabbed ahold of his wings as her legs snapped out to kick him in the base of his skull.

As her feet connected Yazmak lost his footing and fell over onto his face with Delairyus standing on top of his head. Continuing in her ruthlessness, Delairyus stomped with all of her might on Yazmak’s head, eliciting a solid grunt as his face was mashed into the ground. As a precaution, Delairyus slashed through the webbing of Yazmak’s wings before stepping off of him, confident in her efforts. Barkstripe, Salien and Zeke were watching with wide-eyed expressions, unsure of how to react to the scene before them.

Delairyus gestured towards Yazmak as she made eye contact with Zeke, “He’s all yours now, I’m sure he’ll answer anything you ask now.”