Zodiac Angels – Chapter Sophia 19

Chapter 19 – S

Miss Frey glares straight into my eyes. The burning rage inside her just tells me how serious she is.
She is dead serious.
That moment I knew right away that this is not going to be like any battle I had faced so far. She can and probably will kill me if I take her lightly.
Sweat flows out of the pores on my skin, wetting my right hand as it nervously grips the staff.
“Here I go…”
With a single hop, the blonde lady lunges towards me with the speed of lightning. She raises her scythe and slashes it down, aiming for my neck. The flow within my body quickly puts up my staff and parries the slash by crossing it against the shaft of the scythe. The blade only barely touched my jacket, but I could already see a cut on it.

At the same time, the armored dragon dives down from the air and lunges towards us. But Regulus immediately intercepts the charge by tackling the dragon away to the side.
With the two beasts out of the way, I forcefully push Miss Frey backward and attempt to shoot a fireball at her from point blank. However, the blonde lady quickly hops away and flips her body into the air. Suddenly, six looming dark circles appear right behind her body. At her command, Miss Frey swings her scythe downward while still in the air, and those dark circles immediately shoots barrage of dark energy beams down on me. There is no way I can parry against those beams so I hop backwards twice, barely getting out of her attack’s range.
Once Miss Frey lands back to the ground, she lunges forward at me again, spinning her body along with her scythe like a rolling rowel.
I set my staff up horizontally, blocking the relentless slash before she lands on the ground and thrusts a kick at my abdomen, sending me across the other side of the valley.
With the pain reflected onto Regulus, the armored dragon took advantage of the lion’s stagger and smashes his fist straight at Regulus’s face.

“Sophia!!!!”
I heard mom crying my name when she saw me flying across the field. Both my abdomen and left cheek are all sore from the attacks.
This woman is skilled.
Her attacks are deft and she also knows exactly just where to hit to weaken her opponent.
“I’m okay…!” I told mom as I get back up on my feet.
“Hmph.” Miss Frey smirks and massages her right shoulder with her left hand.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“You are lucky that my skills have rusted after 20 years of sleep. If this was before, you wouldn’t even be standing after that kick.”
She sure knows where to hit her opponent. Now she’s not only hitting my body, she is also threatening my morale.
“Hey, I’m just getting warmed up. There’s no need to rush. I can knock you down anytime I want!” I taunt her back. I can’t let her know that she is scaring me.
“Hmph. Such arrogance… I like you!”

The blonde lady lunges forward at me again. She raises her scythe and swings it down for a slash.
I know now that she favors getting close and personal, so I have to get some range advantage. As a result, I quickly hop back a couple of times, firing fireballs as I go. Since I was not standing on the ground when I shoot, the recoil from each shot helps bring me further away each time I hop. The blonde lady accurately cuts the fireballs in half as they got close to her. In the end, none of the shots I fired manage to harm her at all. Regardless, I still keep on firing more fireballs to keep Miss Frey from getting near me while I try to come up with a plan.

Meanwhile, Algethi and Regulus are wrestling. In terms of sheer strength, Regulus appears to be having the upper hand. However, Algethi’s body is a lot bigger than Regulus. Using his size to an advantage, the dragon lifts the lion’s body up from the ground and flutters his wings, soaring both of them into the air where Regulus has no ground to stand. While mid-air, the dragon repeatedly punches the lion, who has no choice but to block the incoming assault with his iron gauntlet. After that, the dragon performs a smashing tail strike, smacking the lion down against the ground.
The pain Regulus experienced was reflected back to me, causing my shooting rhythm to stop short. Taking advantage of that, Miss Frey raises her scythe up and firmly swings it down against the ground, releasing a fang-shaped energy wave that runs along the ground. Luckily, my legs were able to hop me out of the wave’s path. The wave continues its way and hits the mountain behind me, forming a huge slash mark on it.
If I were to be a little slower in dodging that, my body would have been cut in half. The overwhelming force this woman demonstrated is starting to take its toll on my morale. I know I’ve been talking big, but now that I’ve actually fought her, for the first time I begin questioning myself ‘Can I really defeat her?’

“You got guts, Sophia. I like that. You put up a great fight.”
…Me getting beaten up was a great fight to you?
“But this battle is mine!”
Miss Frey raises her left arm into the air and all of the sudden an aura of looming dark fog bursts out from underneath her. The crimson blade on her scythe also starts glowing an extremely unnerving red glow.
“[Extract Emotion]!? Sophia! Stay away from Frey! You can’t block her attacks any more!!!” Mom cried from the other side of the invisible wall.

[Extract Emotion]? What’s that?

“What does that skill do, Aunt Myria!?” Lin turns to mom with a worried face.
“It’s Frey’s personal technique. With [Extract Emotion] in effect, she forfeits all forms of emotion including fatigue and pain, giving her three times her normal strength for the next 30 seconds!” mom explained.

Oh crap. That’s really not nice.

Miss Frey swings her scythe three times in a row, releasing three of those fang-shaped energy waves at once. I have no choice but to run to the side to avoid all of those waves. Even with me running at full speed, I was only barely able to get out of their range. The waves’ power has significantly improved because even though I wasn’t hit, my body was still pushed away as it runs passed my back.
I quickly try to regain my balance, but the blonde lady is already standing in front of me! She raises her scythe up and swings it straight down to the ground. I quickly bend to the side and barely avoid the slash, but a burst of energy erupts from below us when the scythe touches the ground, blowing me up into the air.
Without getting any rest, Miss Frey hops up into the air and fires down a barrage of dark energy beams from the looming dark circles behind her. With my body in the air like this, I just know that there is no way I can avoid this attack.
I’m gonna get a full hit from it!

Just as I close my eyes bracing for the attack, the lion with golden mane quickly charges in and tackles me out of the range. The two of us roll on the ground away from Miss Frey’s energy barrage.
My body aches all over the place. Regulus probably does not feel any different from me. I got back on my feet by leaning on Regulus as I stand.
“Not bad. If your beast was one second slower, both you and the lion would have been caught in the blast. That would surely hurt.” Miss Frey chuckles, massaging her right shoulder again.
And now she is threatening my morale again. I have to say something to hide the fact that I am freaking out from her.
“…So…you gain more power by activating that skill?” I asked.
“You have a problem with that?”
“So that is the real extent of your powers…”
“Yeah? So what?”
“…Haha…then I’m glad that you’re not going to get any stronger than that.” I forced a chuckle. “If that is the best that you got, then you’re just so so…”

“…Are you mocking me, Sophia?” Miss Frey’s expression suddenly turns from a mocking one into an unamused face. “Don’t you realize how weak you are!? Are you telling me that you want to fight against the Nebula Corp and Ophiucus with such a pathetic strength!? STOP FOOLING AROUND!!!!!”
Her scream once again releases a threatening energy wave.
“Stop being so naïve, Sophia! You can’t protect anything with that meager strength! If you can’t even defeat me, then forget going against Ophiucus!”

Her words do sting hard.
Listening to her words, I feel very hopeless.
She is right about me being weak. She is right about me being naïve…But…

“…Yeah…You don’t have to tell me that. I know dang well that I’m weak.” I grit my teeth, admitting the truth. “I don’t have a powerful magic spell like Auria. I don’t have the reflex and power that Viola has. I don’t have the skill that you and mom have.” I lift my face and look straight at her. “…But I’m not a coward like you. No matter how grave or dire the situation is, I won’t go to sleep and turn my back at my problems. I’ve sworn to the stars since I was small that if I become a Zodiac Angel, I would save Athenia AND Ophiucus. Now that the angel chose me as her successor, I can’t just give up here…My duty has not even started yet! You are just an obstacle in my path that I have to cross!”
The blonde lady simply frowns at my speech. With a face filled with boredom, she sighs and closes her eyes.
“……Fine. Then I’ll show you just how pathetically hopeless you are!” the blonde lady screamed and angrily glares at me. “Algethi! Burn her to a crisp!”
“No!!! Frey! Dammit!” mom cried and takes out her sword, slashing the invisible wall. However, it was futile; the walls wouldn’t even budge for a bit. “Stop this right now, Frey! Sto—-.”
All of the sudden, mom stops screaming and colors drained from her face.

…What’s going on?

“…? Algethi?” Miss Frey turns around to her servant, which is now idly hovering in the air. “What are you doing!? I said burn her to a crisp!!!!”
Miss Frey yelled at the dragon, who simply glares back at her coldly.
“Why? What’s wrong!? What’s—-!!!!!?”
That moment, everyone’s eyes widened as the armored dragon swoops down from the air and smacks the blonde woman – his master – against the hills nearby!

“What in the!?” I cried and turned to mom. “Mom!? What’s going on!? Why is her beast hitting her!!!?”
“…He just deemed Frey unworthy of his angel’s power…” Mom kneels down on the ground, whispering with her lips shivering.
“What do you mean, Aunt Myria!?”
“Aren’t Zodiac Beasts our loyal servants!?”
Lin and Len look at mom in panic.
“No. Zodiac Beasts are the loyal servants of the angels dwelling in our bodies – not us. They also act as a judge to see whether or not we are worthy of their masters’ powers!” mom explained.
“H…Hey!? Wait!! Are you serious!? So what’s gonna happen to Miss Frey!?”
That was such a silly question. From how Algethi smacks her earlier, it should almost be obvious now what he is going to do to her…
“Since she is no longer worthy of his master’s powers, he is going to free his master’s soul from her!” mom cried.

“…Ugh…W…Wait…Algethi!” Miss Frey tries to get up. “Why are you doing this!? Why am I—!?”
All of the sudden, her face turns pale and her knees lose all of their strength, dropping her body to the ground.
“…I’m no longer worthy because I used my powers to satisfy my personal desires?”
She’s talking to Algethi in her mind?
I can only assume that because the dragon’s lips are not moving at all.
“Zodiac Angels…are meant to protect Athenia…My master has no use for a puppet that will not fulfill her wills???” Miss Frey’s lips whispered out those words, as if repeating what Algethi was speaking to her.
With the charges known to the guilty, the verdict is now final. The dragon then raises his claws up into the air, aiming to decapitate the blonde lady’s head.

Yeah, right…Like I am going to let that happen!

“REGULUS!!!!”
Heeding my command, the lion quickly runs in and intercepts the dragon’s claw with his iron gauntlet. Algethi frustratingly roars at Regulus who interfered with his verdict.
Before the dragon could harm my servant, I quickly swing my staff from my back forward, releasing a fireball that explodes into a huge fiery globe when it touches the dragon’s back.
“What……? So…phia…?” Miss Frey whispered, “Why…?! Why are you—!?”
“Just shut it and sit there!” I yelled and do some stretch ups to get my body back in shape.
“No, Sophia! You cannot defeat Algethi right now!” mom yelled, “He is going to kill whoever interferes with his verdict!”
“L…Listen to your mother, Sophia! Once the beast deems an angel inappropriate, he won’t stop until his master’s soul is freed!” Miss Frey added. Although she is telling that, it is obvious that her lips are trembling.
She is scared.
She is freaked out of her mind.

“Sophia! Get Regulus away—-!!!”
“I said SHUT IT!” I screamed, interrupting the blonde lady. “I told you, didn’t I? That I am going to show you my convictions – That I am going to save Athenia AND Ophiucus! If I let you die here, then that means that I have failed my own duty as a Zodiac Angel! How do you expect me to sleep at night knowing that I let my fellow angel died in front of me!?”
Regulus punches into the dragon’s face with his right paw and tackles him with his right shoulder, forcing the dragon to hover away into the air.
“Give me your best shot!” I point my staff at the dragon. “You want her body?! Then it’s over mine!”

———————————————

A/N:

This comment was on [Vanessa and her Crab Roe] picture on the old blog

You asked a very interesting question back there ^^
I kind of always had this idea since I started designing the Zodiac Beasts, and in the end, it is one of the few concepts that stick with the story until the final version.

Now, I know that with the twist in this chapter, people might be questioning a potential plot hole in Viola’s and Auria’s chapter.
So for those who haven’t read both of their chapters yet, I warn you right now:

<SPOILERS ALERT!!!>

Zodiac Beasts are not only the loyal servants of the Zodiac Angels, but they are also the mean judges who determine if the human hosts are worthy of their true masters’ powers. As explained in the story, ‘puppets that cannot fulfill the wills of the Zodiac Angels – which is protecting Athenia – are not worthy of their powers.’
In this case, Frey was interfering with Sophia’s intention to save Athenia, directly going against the angels’ will.

For Rokishi’s case in Viola’s chapter, his Zodiac Beast, ‘Chamali’, is not a real Zodiac Beast at all. Zodiac Beasts have souls and minds of their own, but their bodies are materialized through the angel’s power when she wills it. Chamali can be thought of as a manifestation of Rokishi’s power to materialize a creature, except the creature does not have the soul and mind of a Zodiac Beast, and hence he cannot judge Rokishi.
 
Now what about Lauress and Orica’s case when they were controlled by Oscar?
Doesn’t that constitute to ‘going against’ the angel’s wills too as they are acting under the Nebula Corp’s command?
Controversial as this might be, the answer is a straight ‘NO, IT DOESN’T!
The key word here is ‘controlled’. Lauress and Orica were fighting Auria and Miki against their wills. They have no intention of actually killing Auria or Miki at all. (Granted, later on Orica admits that she is partly jealous of Auria and has a part in making the battles harder. But such emotion is buried deep down her subconscious – something the angels are willing to overlook because all humans have those kinds of emotions in them, regardless of circumstances. On top of that, Orica’s jealousy was also conquered by the love and respect she has for her sister.)
Until the hosts are actually interfering with the angels’ will intentionally, the Zodiac Beasts will remain loyal to their masters’ hosts, protecting them at all costs regardless of what side they are on.

I hope that clears up any questions you might be having in your mind! 😀
Do you like this twist?
Please let me know!

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