Hand in hand, they faced Ignus and his guardians. Napansin ko naman na lalong nag-iiba ang mukha nina Arsen at Ignus at sa bawat oras na nasasayang ay lalo silang tumatanda. Maging si Phoebe ay unti-unti na ring nawawala at nababawasan ang spirit particles niya.
Without a warning, Ignus attacked with a ball of fire from Hell, but Arsen was faster. The eight swords danced around him and one of it cut the ball of fire into two.
All of a sudden, Master and Gavin headed in our direction and faced the fireball cut into halves. Master used her armor to push the fire away and change its direction. It ended up falling into the lake, causing a huge explosion of water below. On the other hand, Gavin used his claw, cutting the fire into smaller pieces until they disintegrated.
“Don’t let them interfere!” sigaw ni Ignus at bigla namang sumugod sa direksyon ng Spirit Masters ang Ministers.
Everything happened so fast. Isang segundo lang akong napalingon sa direksyon ng Spirit Masters at Ministers pero hindi iyon pinalampas ni Ignus. Magma erupted from his spear and it almost toasted me, had it not been for the flame barrier I instinctively chanted.
“Stay focused. He won’t miss a chance on attacking us,” sabi ni Arsen at lalo lang siyang tumanda sa paningin ko.
Hinayaan ko na lang ang Spirit Masters sa laban nila at nagfocus ako kay Ignus. Just like Arsen, his physical appearance has started to get older, but it seems like their abilities aren’t affected.
“Is that the extent of your power, kid?” Ignus asked with a mocking tone. “The First wasted her immortality and the Second is wasting the immense power of the phoenix.”
“Convena ensis,” Arsen chanted and his swords looked agitated.
“Arsen . . .” sabay tingin ni Phoebe sa kanya at tumango naman siya.
The swords started to move and spirit particles gathered around them. Bigla namang tumingin sa akin si Phoebe at ngumiti siya.
“This will be our final gift to you,” she said as her spirit particles dissolve into thin air. “Our time has finally come.”
Biglang bumigat ang pakiramdam ko pagkasabi niya no’n, kasabay ng malakas na pagkulog at halos lahat ng ingay sa paligid ay nawala. I’ve only seen her few hours ago but she has been with me ever since I was born. Looking at her right now made me realize how lucky I am to have her as my guardian.
Dahil unti-unti nang nawawala si Phoebe ay mas naging mabilis din ang pagtanda ni Arsen kaya ngayon ay halos hindi ko na makita ang dati niyang itsura. But until the end, he showed us what he’s capable of as the Divine General.
“Don’t go,” I whispered but I’m sure she heard it. I know it was a selfish thing to say but that was my true feelings. I don’t want her to disappear. I want to be with her for a longer time . . .
. . . but I know that it was a useless plea.
“I won’t,” sabi niya kaya napatingin ako sa kanya. “I will always be by your side,” then she looked at Phoebe and I heard her shriek.
Kusang tumulo ang luha ko nang marinig ko ‘yon. She has always been the phoenix, my main guardian, but what I’ll miss is her human counterpart—Princess Phoebe.
“I know,” sabi ko na lang at pinunasan ang luha sa pisngi ko. I looked at them, both prepared and willing to accept their fate. Bigla namang tumingin sa akin si Arsen kaya napatigil ako.
“Tell them that I can’t say goodbye personally,” sabay tingin niya sa ibaba kung nasaan ang Spirit Masters at saglit siyang ngumiti. “Those people are a bunch of troublemakers and gave me a lot of headaches but they are good-natured. I told them before that they should decide who’ll be the next Divine General in case something happened to me but they all refused to do it until I’m here.”
I never really heard the Divine General like this except with Phoebe but I guess being with the Spirit Masters for a long time softened him a bit. But after a few seconds, his expression turned became tough and unrelenting.
“For creating chaos and dragging the innocent lives into your greed, I shall punish you severely!” Arsen roared as the thunder rumbled, and I didn’t know if I got the goosebumps from the thunder or him.
“I won’t allow you,” sabi naman ni Ignus at pinalibutan niya ang sarili niya ng apoy.
“Ignus, the Lord Exorcist, you angered the heaven and its guardians, and I will answer their call.”
Naramdaman ko ang panginginig ng buong katawan ko dahil sa mga salitang binitiwan niya at dahil na rin sa unti-unting pagkawala ng spirit particles mula sa katawan niya.
“You think you can kill me with that kind of body? Don’t make me laugh!” Ignus yelled with a sneer but Arsen and Phoebe remained serious and determined.
Both of their bodies were disintegrating yet there was no trace of panic and fear. In fact, they looked so untroubled, as if nothing is happening. Phoebe held Arsen’s hand and her spirit particles enveloped him.
“Don’t underestimate the power of my general.”
With those words, Phoebe disappeared and Arsen made his last move.
His eight swords danced and each of them attacked Ignus, as if they transformed into their dragon counterparts. Ignus quickly reacted but their speed was faster. Two of the swords pierced his armor while the remaining six targeted Hell, and the simultaneous roars of him, Hell and the swords filled the sky.
“Incerna!” Ignus yelled and a wall of fire covered him, together with Hell and Arsen’s swords.
Napatingin naman ako kina Phoebe at Arsen at halos wala nang natitira sa katawan nila. I mouthed ‘no’ but all I got were their smiles.
“Thank you for setting us free,” sabi ni Arsen at muling bumalik ang itsura niya sa pagkabata.
“Reika . . .” saka tumingin sa akin si Phoebe. “The power to save the world from chaos, now it’s in your hands. Goodbye, my dear Master and friend.”
After saying those words, their bodies disintegrated and their spirit particles disappeared. My mind was blank for a moment, unsure of what to do now that I am alone. But suddenly, I heard Phoebe’s screech and I realized I wasn’t.
“I will always be by your side.”
That’s right. Phoebe’s still here. I caressed her blue-flamed feathers and pushed those thoughts away. She’s still here with me so I have nothing to worry about.
I watched Ignus, still inside the wall of fire, suffering from the wounds that Arsen gave. The fire started to extinguish and I saw him undoing the hybrid form of the magma dragon. Both of his dragon were wounded and it seems like his right shoulder was also injured. Bigla naman siyang tumingin sa direksyon ko at bakas sa mukha niya ang galit.
“Did they finally die?” he said in a low but threatening voice. “I should’ve ended their lives with my own hands!”
He glared at me and it felt like he was looking through my soul. I reached for Phoebe to remind myself that I am not alone. She left me with a huge responsibility and I need to do that, just like what she did hundreds of years ago.
“You succeeded in pissing me off,” sabi niya at biglang nagbago ang expression niya. “Now you’ll experience the wrath of the dragons.”
Without even chanting any incantation, both of his dragons transformed into their respective hybrid forms. Just like before, the magma dragon changed into his armor and spear, while Hell became a broadsword and his black wings were attached to Ignus’ back.
“Ardeo divum,” he chanted, raising his broadsword, and the sky exploded. “Mare ignis!”
The clouds parted, as if someone had cut it, and a massive sea of fire appeared. In a matter of seconds, the blue sky turned into crimson.
“And now, watch as I incinerate the world that you tried hard to protect.” With just a snap of his sword, the fire became alive, and it started pouring down.
“The power to save the world from chaos, now it’s in your hands.”
Phoebe’s last words rung in my ears, pushing back the fear that wanted to overwhelm me. I know. I won’t let you down.
He’s been critically wounded by Arsen and the curse that my parents put on him made him wary of his body and the time. I won’t let their sacrifices wasted.
“And I’ll protect them at all cost,” I said and a familiar incantation, followed with a new one, dawdled inside my head.
“Can you? Look around you. Before you can do anything, everything will be turned into ashes.”
“Verscheiden sie viel hyva mich han!” I chanted to transform Phoebe into her hybrid form but before I could finish it, I chanted another incantation. “Claustra liven ardor!”
Phoebe screeched as her spirit particles enveloped me, but what made me stunned and exhausted was the sea of blue fire below me. Before the meteor-like debris from Ignus’ fire reach the Capital below, my fire extinguished them into nothing.
He looked at me with a dumbfounded expression as I reveal my new form. I only did the half-animal form with Phoebe because of the Limiter seal, but now that it was removed and I’ve acquired my full power, I managed to use her hybrid form.
“You said you want to know the extent of my power so watch as I protect those you want to destroy. Lord Ignus, now you’ll experience the wrath of the heavens.”
Even if it means burning myself with my own fire, I’ll protect those people below. I’ll protect the world, just like what Phoebe did.