An Awakened had no business fighting one Ascended... let alone three, each radiating an aura of an aberrant battle master. But then again, as far as Awakened went, Sunny was more than a little abnormal himself.

He had already killed two Masters before: Pierce, one of the wardens of the Night Temple, and the fearsome Red Priest, the slave overseer of the Colosseum. Both victories had been won by the skin of his teeth and cost him dearly... Sunny had even lost his head in one of those battles.

The War Maidens seemed far more daunting than both of those men, and there were three of them. The previous clashes with the Ascended he had were nothing compared to the dire challenge of this one.

...However, during both of those fights, Sunny hadn't had the opportunity to go full out. The first time, Saint and Serpent had been preoccupied with the human Echoes. The second time, he had been cut off from the Spell, and thus from his arsenal of Memories. But this time...

This time, nothing was preventing Sunny from unleashing the full and dreadful power of his Divine Aspect. It was time to show what he was truly capable of when nothing held him back.

Fortunately, two of the War Maidens had already been injured by Sunny's treacherous attack. So, although attacking the three of them alone seemed more than a little bit insane, there was a good chance that he would win this fight.

...As the three Ascended prepared to deflect the assault of Shadows, Saint lowered her shoulder, put it behind the Patient Avenger, and aimed the charred kite shield at the enemies.

[Burning Heart] Enchantment Description: "This shield can store a portion of fire damage it receives to augment another weapon of its wielder or unleash a devastating shockwave."

A deep metallic groan resounded from within the shield, and then, an invisible shockwave exploded outward from its dull steel surface. The Patient Avenger had absorbed plenty of fire damage during the explosion of divine flames, and now, all that furious force was released forward, shattering the chunks of stone that littered the cracked floor into dust and sending the War Masters flying back, into different directions.

Whatever chance of a coordinated defense they had before was now utterly gone.

Without slowing down, Sunny and his Shadows split. The Soul Serpent slithered between the dancing flames, lunging at the Maiden that wielded a spear. Saint ran toward the Maiden that wielded an odachi. And finally, Sunny and Nightmare flew toward the Maiden that was unarmed, but radiated the most pressure.

'Come on!'

Everything was going according to plan... however, no plan ever survived a clash with reality. A moment later, something unexpected happened, putting a wrinkle into Sunny's stratagem.

The woman with black hair twisted in the air and gracefully landed on her feet, plunging the tip of her glowing spear into the stone floor to stop herself from sliding back, into the white wall of divine flame burning behind her. And then... there were suddenly two of her.

Two identical War Maidens jumped to their feet, each holding an identical glowing spear. None looked like an illusion, and both possessed real shadows. Both were made of flesh and bone. Which meant... that the threat she posed instantly doubled.

'What kind of an insane Aspect is that?!'

Sunny bared his fangs, changing the plan on the fly.

Nightmare pivoted and switched direction, aiming to join Soul Serpent and help it destroy the two spear-wielding Ascended. One of the shadows cast by Sunny swiftly glided forward, wrapping itself around the black steed. The other two rose and embraced Sunny himself, since he was now facing the most fearsome of the War Masters alone.

Saint was going to have to deal with her own opponent without any augmentations. He wasn't too worried, though... out of the four of them, she was probably the most powerful.

A moment later, the War Maidens and the Shadows clashed.

To Sunny's left, Nightmare and the Soul Serpent attacked the two identical black-haired women. Now that the shadow steed was apart from Sunny and outside the area where the Shadow Lantern was devouring all light, the effect of the [Dark Destrier] Attribute was lessened, depriving him of its augmentation. However, the [Dreadlord] Attribute was still working.

No matter how confident and fearsome the War Maidens appeared, they had to be in the throes of fear in confusion deep down in their hearts. After all, their sacred chalice had just been unexpectedly destroyed, and scores of their sisters had been killed in the explosion. Added to Nightmare's [Mantle of Fear] Ability, even powerful Ascended like them would not be able to resist the creeping terror... and the more terrified they were, the more powerful the black courser would become.

So, Sunny was not worried about Serpent and Nightmare, either.

To his right, Saint clashed with the red-haired Ascended, their blades crossing with melodious ringing. The War Maiden pushed, causing the taciturn demon to stagger and make a quick step back. Considering how much the living statue weighed, this must have taken tremendous strength... so, this one possessed some sort of a physical augmentation Aspect.

Her terrible burns seemed to be healing with incredible speed, too, which meant that the Aspect gifted her with a miraculous regeneration rate, as well. And lastly, there was a deep nick left on the blade of Saint's stone sword... either the enchantments of the scarlet odachi were especially powerful, or the woman possessed an Ability capable of reinforcing her weapons, too.

Still, Sunny was confident that his silent Shadow would be able to win.

The only member of their team he was somewhat worried about... was himself.

Raising the Cruel Sight above his left shoulder and lowering the Midnight Shard to his right thigh, Sunny lunged at the white-haired War Maiden, who was still calm, entirely unscathed, and unarmed.

'Let's see what kind of a fiend you are, then...'

Looking at the attacking demon with cold hatred, the woman simply outstretched her empty hands...

And in the next moment, the stone shards and the dancing flames around them suddenly moved.