A few moments later after Sunny spoke, the Spell whispered into his ear:

[You have slain an Ascended human, War Maiden Hilde.]

[Your shadow grows stronger.]

He took a step back and grunted, pain and exhaustion permeating his battered body.

"Why don't I feel happy..."

Sunny did not mean to say those words aloud. With a frown, he pulled his gaze away from the corpse of the valiant maiden, briefly glanced at the emerald amulet grasped in one of his hands, and hid it back under the cracked breastplate of the Mantle of the Underworld.

It was not every day that he achieved a victory in a battle against an Ascended. He should have been celebrating... but really, Sunny was not too fond of killing humans.

...At least those whom he did not hate.

Feeling pain travel through his scorched body and observing the sorry state of the Mantle, he activated its [Living Stone] enchantment and saw the stonelike metal start to restore itself. He also sensed most of his remaining essence flow through the armor, disappearing as it empowered the process.

With a sigh, Sunny leaned on the Cruel Sight and looked around warily. He was not in the best shape, and the battle was not over. It wasn't time to celebrate yet.

To his right, Saint was entangled with the red-haired Ascended, their weapons weaving a fearsome pattern of destruction across the remains of the great hall. The Patient Avenger was glowing with an angry orange radiance, and her stone sword was surrounded with flames — augmented by the [Cold Steel] enchantment of the shield, it was somehow resisting the scarlet odachi.

However, the blade of the sword was covered by numerous nicks and cracks, as if it was seconds away from falling apart. The body of the War Maiden, meanwhile, was washed in blood but free of any wound, betraying the fact that she had been able to heal all the damage dealt to her by Saint.

To his left, Serpent and Nightmare were fighting the two identical Ascendeds. One, surprisingly, was already on the floor, the black steed stomping viciously on her chest with adamantine hooves. The sight of it was both disturbing and frightening, even though Sunny knew that the dreadful horse was on his side.

The second maiden was entangled in a furious battle with Soul Serpent, her enchanted spear flashing through the air and leaving deep gashes on the stygian scales of the giant snake.

Despite Serpent's advantage in size and might, the woman was too swift, cunning, and skilled to allow herself to be caught by its coils. What's worse, her weapon seemed to be able to follow the enemy into the shadows, striking at Serpent even when it dove into them to ensnare her.

The black-haired warrior was truly terrifying. To be able to resist both an Ascended Demon and an Awakened Terror at the same time, even after being damaged by the Strike of Thunder and the explosion of the chalice was something only the most fearsome Masters of the waking world would have been able to do... if any.

However, her luck had run out.

Because today, she met Sunny.

Stepping through the shadows, he appeared behind the maiden and struck her in the back, not at all concerned with how cowardly and dishonorable such an attack was... or would have been considered by some people, rather.

Honor was for fools... and while Sunny knew himself to behave like a fool on occasion, he was at least immune to this particular kind of foolishness.

The blade of the Cruel Sight pierced the heart of the brave War Maiden and flashed with white incandescence of divine flames for a split second, dealing devastating damage to everything it touched. The woman died instantly, without even realizing who had killed her.

At the same time, her second copy finally succumbed to Nightmare's hooves and stopped moving, her body a terrifying mess of torn flesh and broken bones. A moment later, it shimmered with a dark red glow, and disappeared.

The Spell spoke:

[You have slain an Ascended human, War Maiden Gvenravyr.]

[Your shadow grows stronger.]

'One more left...'

Regretting his decision to not let the Serpent finish off the Ascended, thus replenishing his now empty reserves of essence, Sunny gritted his teeth and turned his head to glance at Saint...

However, at that moment, the voice of the Spell suddenly resounded once again:

[You have slain an Ascended human, War Maiden Kara.]

[Your shadow grows stronger.]

...What he saw was the War Maiden's decapitated body toppling to the floor, the taciturn knight standing above it with a shattered sword in her hand. The length of its stone blade — what remained of it, at least — was painted crimson, heavy drops falling down from it.

Saint remained motionless for a few moments, then glanced at her broken sword with regret. Her shoulders moved slightly, as if the Shadow sighed. Dropping the shattered blade, she then bent down and nonchalantly picked up the scarlet odachi that slipped from the Ascended's fingers.

Finally, the taciturn demon brandished the odachi and turned around to look in the direction of the entrance to the great hall.

'What is she looking at...'

Sunny frowned, then suddenly shivered.

'Oh, right... Effie and Kai!'

He spun, remembering that his friends were currently facing off against a dozen of powerful Awakened warriors.

However, he didn't have to worry.

The War Maidens... almost all of them were already dead.

Kai was just about to finish off the last one. The young man was clad in beautiful armor forged out of white steel and gold, wielding a swift saber. His battle skill seemed to have improved tremendously since their time on the Forgotten Shore... those months in the army of the Ivory City must have taught him a lot.

Effie was done with her share of enemies, as well. The little girl was now wearing a familiar bronze armor, the white chiton beneath it replaced by the red silken tunic of the War Maidens. The Dusk Shard was also there, on her hand. However, now the heavy round shield was almost the size of her entire body.

Just then, Kai dodged a strike of his opponent, hovered above the floor at an impossible angle, and delivered an unexpected thrust to the War Maiden's abdomen. A moment later, Effie slammed into her with the Dusk Shard. The female warrior fell to the ground, either dead or dying.

Suddenly, the devastated hall of the Temple of the Chalice was enveloped in silence.

The three of them — Sunny, Kai, and Effie — stared at each other with confused expressions on their faces.

It was all over.

Have they really... won?