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~BOOOOOOMMMM!!!~

The deafening blast caused by Serah killing yet another variant seemed to be the signal for Legris.

At least a dozen versions of himself abandoned all concerns with Serah, taking only one entity as a priority at the moment.

'Maria Helmsworth!' Legris screamed internally.

The several variants stretched out their darkened hands at Maria, lunging them in her direction without a moment's notice.

They shrouded themselves in darkness, thus improving their speed and defenses, just in case any of them were attacked by Serah.

'Still… Serah is busy with the others. I only have one shot at this!'

Maria seemed to be in deep concentration since she was behind Serah's spontaneous teleportation.

The lack of focus made her a perfect target.

'There might be some measure of defense erected to protect her, but that won't stop me.'

The several darkened hands charged at Maria, all of them targeting various parts of her body in order to swiftly corrupt and end her as swiftly as possible.

And then…

'Haha!'

… They met their target.

The hands grabbed Maria and apparently even ripped into pieces.

She turned into nothing but darkness—dust that had no form or meaning.

Legris had taken in whatever Aether she had to offer, rendering her nonexistent in the world as a consequence.

However…

'Hold on. Something is off. Why isn't there—?'

~BOOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!~

The sound of the distant explosions getting closer suddenly caught Legris' attention, and before any of his variants realized it, all the several other versions keeping Serah busy were already destroyed.

In a flash, she appeared in their midst, still using the same teleportation they were supposed to have gotten rid of.

'A-ahh…!'

At this point, it dawned on Legris that he had been fooled.

~BOOOOOOOOOMMMM!!!~

He hadn't taken in or eliminated Maria, but a mere duplicate at best.

It was no wonder that he couldn't obtain any Constellation Essence from her when he devoured the body.

~BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!~

Instead, he had been intentionally lured to target Maria, while reducing his focus and defenses against Serah, allowing her to eliminate more of his variants than she would have normally been able to.

Now that she had cleared over twenty of his variants within a second, it seemed barely possible for him to compete with her attack speed and veracity.

'Especially when I do not know where that brat is!' Legris gritted his teeth and looked around him.

For some reason, he was unable to detect her.

'Did she use some sort of Magic to do so? Maybe something about her Constellation's Representation?' It irked Legris, but in the end he had to chalk it up to that.

And if he was to settle for said conclusion, it would be a waste of time and resources to chase after Maria—especially when Serah was gaining on him.

'Serah was my original target. Aided by Maria or not, I should still be able to kill her if I try.'

And so…

~BOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!~

… As the last explosion echoed in Legris' ears, signaling the death of his twenty-fifth variant, he clenched his teeth and decided to kick things up a notch.

"[llaF niatruC kraD]"

Instantly, the entire domain that seemed to be simmering in Serah's heat became enveloped in darkness.

It felt like someone had cast a thick blanket on the sky, blocking all forms of light and radiation in the world.

'This consumes a lot, but I suppose it'll take this much to finally eliminate you…'

The dark barrier that now seemed to pervade the entire world oozed malevolent energy that only Legris could provide.

It suddenly felt like the black energy that coursed through Legris now filled the world around him.

"Haha… what now?"

"Serah Crimson."

"Maria Helmsworth."

"How long will you last?"

"Will you survive?"

"I wonder…?"

Suddenly, more Legrises seemed to pop out of nowhere, leading up to a total of twenty.

It was a smaller number than before, but considering the corrosive effects of the darkness that now filled the realm, it was overkill.

Multiple Legrises had appeared in a world dominated by them.

At this point, even the spontaneous Serah stopped her vanishing act and conserved her Aether by shrouding herself in dense Aether.

Her Invincible Form seemed to be holding up quite well, but was it not a matter of time to decipher how long she would last before his darkness seeped in?

Right beside Serah was Maria, who seemed to be within a bubble that also seemed to be fighting the black corruption, but even that was slowly being affected.

"It's only a matter of time…" He declared with a devilish grin.

Even though this was terribly draining, he found the results to be perfect.

In the end, it would be his victory.

"Is that really what you think?" Serah's voice suddenly echoed in the darkness, her crimson form piercing the darkness in all its glory.

"What?"

Legris' brows perked up as he expressed surprise by the sheer amount of arrogance Serah displayed—both in her speech and her wild smile.

It bothered him to no end.

"It seems you do not know the true nature of my Original Magic."

The brilliant ambers she emitted grew brighter as she slowly moved towards Legris.

"If my Aether is corrupted, I only need to release it and replace it with a new supply. Anyone doing that will naturally run out of Aether, but…" Her fiery grin only became wider as she spoke.

"… I only grow stronger the more I use Aether. That is the power of my [Invincible]."

In essence, this was never a battle of attrition for Serah.

It was always a 'Winner takes All.'

"Now, then Legris…" Fiery energy surrounded Serah, almost as if she was at the center of a violent storm.

The darkness quaked in her presence, and her power only seemed to rise as she shook of her corrupted chrysalis.

"… Shall we continue?"

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[A/N]

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!

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