It is now dusk and the trio consisting of Karen Tomach, Howard Rheinmetall and Elizabeth Feldt. Iris was told to stay in the inn as it is dangerous. Howard had told Karen that there might be many Barghests around, so it wouldn’t be wise for her to tag along.

“Stay here. We’ll talk about what you did last night when I get back, okay?” Karen said before leaving the inn.

Iris showed a concerned and bitter face as the door of the room closes.

“Sooo, we’re in the graveyard, and it’s quite dark. Where are the Barghests?” Elizabeth said impatiently. “Come out, come out wherever you are~”

“Why don’t you get yourself into a better position, Elizabeth? Like that tree there over there?” Howard prompted her as she shrugged and did what he said.

“So, we’re the frontlines on this?” Karen asked, assuming that Howard will also stay on the frontlines.

“No, love, I’ll be hiding myself. You’ll be here with my armor.” Howard then made his way to Elizabeth as that is the best place to view the surroundings.

Karen shook hands with the intimidatingly huge armor as a joke and said, “Well, nice working with ya.”

Before long, growls resonating from beyond the bushes and footsteps on grass could be heard coming from all directions.

Looks like Howard’s right in a way that there will be a group of demons instead of the usual singular loners, Karen thought.

As the sun had fully set by the time the demons appeared, the graveyard is covered in total darkness, with only the rising moon as the only source of light. It is impossible to see beyond a few meters, which begs the question: how would Howard and Elizabeth operate at a distance away if they aren’t able to see anything?

Elizabeth prepares her longbow, which exudes a very unconventional and erotic curve on its body with the hand grip on the lower half half of the weapon, much like the Yumi from Japan. Her Will is as elegant as her body in the one-piece dress she is wearing. She then nocked an arrow with a gem at its tip, pointed it up at the sky and released.

The arrow flew to about fifty meters above ground before turning into dust and illuminating the immediate area of Karen, allowing her to see her surroundings as well as providing further intel on how Howard and Elizabeth will operate away from sight and establishing a kill-zone.

Another exceptional display of how magic is used alongside a Will. Anything that walks into our field of vision diesl, Karen thought to herself, being impressed at what was done. Looks like what Fuji taught me only scratches the surface, I have to find out what’s best for myself.

The intimidating armor tapped on Karen’s shoulders and both of its hands with one of it fully opened and the other clenched.

The magic only lasts for ten minutes. Looks like we’ll have to finish our task before it gets dark again.

One of the demons surrounding Karen and the armor decided to make its move by showing itself under the light and that is when Karen thought something was off. The demon does not look even remotely close to a Barghest. It had no physical qualities similar to a canine except that it roams the graveyards at night, and it certainly is not black in color. In fact, it has a head of a fox and a body of a tiger. The fact that people are describing the demons they saw as plural should have been a red flag all along as Barghests never operated in a group.

The creature that appeared had its eyes on Karen, as she is the target that is the easiest to take down. The creature has enough intelligence to know to take down a weaker foe first before confronting a stronger one.

Realizing what they are up against, Karen roared at the top of her lungs, “Watch out! They’re chimeras!”

If there are chimeras, does that mean he’s here too?!

The chimera that showed itself then lifted itself and leaped towards her bearing its teeth, but before its fangs could connect with its intended target, Howard’s armor grabbed its neck and slams it onto the dirt ground before using its sharp claw-like fingers to pierce its abdomen and snuffed the life out of the demon.

A chimera of the same kind dashes into Karen’s line of sight while another took charge of distracting Howard’s armor. She readies the two twenty-four-fold fans that were passed onto her by her adoptive mother and wills the air around her into a vortex.

Breath in, breath out, you can do this, me, you don’t have to fear them. Fuji taught you how to fight, didn’t she? You’ll do great, Karen thought to herself to calm her heart rate down. She hadn’t had any experience with chimeras outside of the encounter where her home village was burnt to the ground by a big group many years ago.

The air then culminated onto a folded fan on her right hand, creating a sword with its blade made up of air. The blade is invisible to the naked eye, nothing can be seen of it except the fancy movements of Karen’s hand movements. The victim of her Will does not know the length of the blade nor how sharp it is.

Come! She subconsciously shouted.

As if reading her thoughts, the chimera lunged at her with full speed swiping its claws. Karen skilfully parried its attacks using her wind blade. Seeing that Howard had no problem disposing of the last chimera, she thought, must’ve been easy not risking your body out here.

While Karen was busy defending against the never-ending advance of the chimera, another one sneakily found its position behind her flank and pounced with great speed.

“Shit!” Karen exclaimed. I can’t turn my body fast enough!

She noticed the presence of the chimera behind her a little too late for any action to be done on her part. However, she has the outstanding support of another Karma. An arrow pierced the chimera mid-air and stuck it to the ground. It whimpered as it tried to free itself.

Nice support, Elizabeth!

With the enemy at the flank taken care of, Karen is able to concentrate on her front again as she had found an opening and proceed to behead the creature in spectacular fashion.

That’s three down!

Just as her high spirits had set in, thinking that the battle might end soon, Karen’s heart dropped when she heard a familiar cry. The kind cry where tears are shed and full of fear – the same one back in Temp Pines.

“Iris?!” she screamed. “Where are you?!”

No, no, no, no, no! Did she follow me?!

Filled with concern and anger, she charged towards the direction where she heard the cry without any care in her surroundings, not even the demons that are chasing her.

“Karen! Where are you going?” Howard shouted but was ignored. “Elizabeth! Can you take out what you can see while I chase after her?”

“Sure thing!”

“Waah! Mommy!” Iris wailed.

It is the first time she uttered the word “mommy”. Iris sneaked out of the inn and stealthily followed Karen to the graveyard. Her plan was partly successful as she managed to get into the graveyard but failed in the sense that she didn’t consider that she will put herself in danger at the hands of demons. Perhaps her sense of curiosity overtook her sense of survival.

“Iris!” Karen found her. “Are you okay?”

Iris shook her head, trying to signal that something is wrong and that she couldn’t move. Karen realized this and figured out what is happening.

“I know you’re there!”

A humanoid figure slowly walked into viewing distance. Karen could not believe at the sight her eyes saw. A bipedal humanoid creature with bare minimum facial features with milk-white skin and a blank body covered with nothing but a simple ragged cloak.

“You’re… You’re not human… What are you?”

“Indeed, I am not human. I am simply a by-product of a forgotten experiment.” The creature said. “It’s inconceivable that we have met at such timing. Perhaps I had miscalculated?”

“Release the child!” Karen demanded.

“Is she yo-“ before the creature could finish his question, Howard’s armor snuck behind it and tried to smash its head in. However, the creature had a fast reaction and manage to dodge the attack by jumping to the side. His hold on Iris was undone by Howard’s action and the child ran as fast as she could towards her guardian.

Karen hugged Iris as they met. “Are you okay?! Are you hurt?!” Karen repeatedly asked while inspecting her. Iris nodded profusely.

“Karen!” Howard shouted as he ran to meet her. “Elizabeth has that end taken care of. What is that creature? Do you know it?”

“I’m not sure, but I have my suspicions.”

The creature continuously dodged the armor’s punches before grabbing its fist, pulling it, making it lose its footing and giving a powerful sick kick. Howard’s armor flew back, destroying many tombstones as well as breaking down a few trees.

“What?!” the amount of force that the creature’s kick administered shocked Howard. His armor was pushed aside as if it weighed nothing.

What have we truly encountered? Howard asked himself.

“Hmph, small fry.” The creature said. “Until then, I shouldn’t waste my time on other matters. And it looks like my younglings are gone.”

“A-are you the one who burned down the village using chimeras and controlled the gashadokuro in Temp Pines?” Karen blurted.

“T’was I, yes.”

“You said you had found the final piece of the puzzle, what was it?”

“Your mother’s Will. And I will have it when the time comes. But that girl there… She has an intriguing ability.”

The creature then decreed that the questioning will end there. A giant winged creature then descended from the sky, creating gusts of wind so powerful that it almost blew Karen, Iris, and Howard away. It took its position on the flying creature and flew away.

“Mommy…” Iris is still crying from what had happened. This is the second time that she had uttered that word. Looking at the afflicted state that the four-year-old girl is in, Karen couldn’t bear to raise her voice to scold her for the foolish act that she had done, putting herself in danger for the sake of quenching the thirst that is her curiosity.

“It’s okay now, it’s okay.” She said in a gentle voice. “I’m not your mother but I’m here.”

“No.” Iris denied. “You are a mommy to me!”

Karen then realised that Iris hadn’t been calling out to her parents, but to her guardian all along. Her heartstrings were tugged and with that, she hugged Iris tightly.

“Ohhhhh! Fine, I’ll be your mom! But make sure to listen to me and never do that ever again!”
I wonder how Sakakki will react when he hears about this.

Successfully recovering his armor and confirming that the creature was indeed here for someone’s grave as a hole was dug, Howard returned along with Elizabeth. Upon seeing the heart-warming sight, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to interrupt their moment. But Elizabeth being Elizabeth, she is impatient and could read the mood.

“Karen~!” Elizabeth exclaimed while Howard face-palms, like a father who thinks that their daughter had done something they shouldn’t have. “Howard told me that the creature you guys encountered said Iris has an ‘intriguing ability’? I can help with that! I may not look like it, but I can read people’s minds with magic!”

I knew it, so she WAS reading my mind!

Elizabeth held an emerald the size of a fingernail on her left hand while putting her right on Iris’ head. She then committed a spell; a spell that allows her to tap into the minds of the individual.

“… So?” Howard asked.

“She… She’s the sixth known individual who wields a conceptual weapon… Her Will is to be able to create an impenetrable shield.”

So that’s what it was. Iris was able to create something small, and since it works like a shield it’ll take a lot more practice before it’s up to scuff.