1 The Summoner's Downfall

"Aria Schreiner, I will have to disappoint you."

On that day, not a single spot of her fair skin was devoid of bruises and blood. Her messy black hair covered her face as she kept looking at the faces of her former 'comrades', even if it made her wounds even worse.

The pain was nothing compared to the anguish.

'Unbelievable.'

That was the only thing she wanted to say.

Stupid would not be enough to describe what these foolish humans did to her.

They were on the verge of discovering the True Unity!

They were only one step behind. The result they struggled tens of years for was right in front of them.

They only had to clear one more level. One more. That damned tower was pushed to the brink of destruction by them.

They had all the key elements!

Just one more and they would be able to receive the 'chance', just like how the late prophecy described.

The chance to enter the higher realms. To ascend.

She felt only bitterness as she gritted her teeth at the familiar faces in front of her.

If she could, she would have used all the spells at her disposal, letting her summons rampage and seeing them writhe in pain as they taste the full agony. If possible, she wanted to engulf everything in a sea of flames, leaving nothing but ashes.

She was filled to the brim with anger!

At her wits end, she couldn't help but secretly struggled to conjure mana. Instead of gaining the energy she wanted, she was met with an excruciating pain that left no part of her body intact.

Aria couldn't hold back the scream and let out a deafening shriek.

"Curse... you!" Aria muttered, her face scratching against the rough soil.

"The Unity's Bind. When used on a living being, it restricts their mana core and prevents the outflow of mana. If the being persisted on conjuring mana, it would unleash a drawback, accompanied by a severe pain." Azef softly spoke as he twirled an azure blue string on his palm.

"You discovered and polished it all by yourself. How does it feel? The product of your research being used against yourself?" He pinched the string with his fingers are swayed it in front of her. "Truly a mystical thing this is. Sadly, you always refused to utilize it. Or rather, you didn't want to use it for other purposes other than your delusional dream."

"AZEF! Cease this stupid act! You will never be able to open the Unity's Door without me!" She wailed, tears of blood sprouting out of her eyes as a result of overexertion.

"I'm afraid that my name would be soiled if it was called by a lowly one like you... Didn't you realize? Or are you really that stupid? Did you never question why we- no, 'you' always ended up being on the verge of death in every single mission?" Azef yanked her black hair and released his grip.

He was thrilled in the thought of seeing the untouchable Summoner in such a bad state.

"On every single expedition you were on, I personally asked my people to make trouble right in the direst moment. After all, only then would the monsters pose trouble to our beloved greatest summoner, Aria Schreiner."

"Azef Harkan, I will never forgive you! I swear.. I swear to anyone who is willing to listen to me. You will not have a smooth life in front of you.

"Unfortunately, I don't need your forgiveness." Azef snapped his fingers and as a response, a bullet was shot. "Nor do I need to live a smooth life. I will be the one to choose what I become."

"Look, it's your dear Unity Bullet. Ahh, you really loved naming everything after that shitty word, don't you? Unity, unity, unity. When will you ever stop?" With another snap of his fingers, two bullets were lodged into her stomach, penetrating her silk satin robe with ease.

The previous shock had dulled her pain receptors. The bullet made her bleeding even worse, but the pain didn't go through.

She felt nothing at this point.

Blood dripped out of the corners of her mouth.

Of all things, she hated futile resistance the most.

She used to look down on those who were already rolling on the ground after losing everything, but still tried to latch onto her for another chance to live.

But now, her will to live surpassed any other second she spent living this cursed life.

Even if she was able to conjure the energy needed to summon her entourage, she wouldn't be able to materialize them.

They had long been sealed by Azef's people.

She kept staring at the crowd with burning rage inside of her.

Then, she suddenly broke into laughter.

Her delirious act made the people feel nothing but an ominous wind. A chill against their back.

Azef clicked his tongue before signalling something to his men. His objective had been completed.

The way Aria still acted like she was a winner irked him. He no longer wanted to deal with the woman.

One individual came forward with a spherical container in his hands.

"Aria Schreiner, you of all people know the best, what this little flame signifies."

Aria couldn't wait for everything to be over, for her life to be ended. For everything to turn into naught.

Her head was forcefully grabbed and raised so that the sparkling blue flame entered her line of sight.

For once, she felt fear.

Flame of Unity.

The last piece of the puzzle. The flame that never stops burning. The key to transcend to the higher realms mentioned in the prophecy.

"You know I hate flames, but you still want me to burn forever?" Aria knew the potency of the flame. Of course, it was purely because she had personally tested it against one of her enemies.

The flame engulfed that person until his entire body was charred black, and yet he was still alive.

Only until she managed to create a storage medium that could contain and suppress the flame made from an element named Unitium was she able to free the man out of agony.

It was somewhat of a tribute to her enemy who had helped her in testing out the flames, she wasted quite a large amount of pure, undiluted Unitium just to weaken the flame to the point of naught.

Now..

It was going to be used against her.

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