AGNPH Stories

Rukario Romance by XD385


To Slay a Goddess

Lucius sat on the balcony just outside his hotel room as he watched the rain falling past. His gaze faced north, the direction he had watched Ash run off to in order to bring back his sister. However, he frowned solemnly as a terrible foreboding sensation fell over him. "Something...horrible has happened..." He then whispered, "Ash... What is happening with you and Lucy right now..." 

To the north, the Angel of Doom observed the body of Ash Ketchum that laid before her, tears streaming down her face. (I.....missed? That strike should have impaled his heart.) She then smirked as she came to understand the cause of her missing her intended target. (Hm. So she stepped in after all. She claimed to want to have nothing to do with him, yet she made me miss his heart when I struck. She forced my hand downwards at the last second, impaling him through his left lung instead of his heart.) Doom observed Ash as copious amounts of blood oozed from the gaping hole in his chest. (Even so, there is no way he will survive with that wound. He does not have long to live.) She then closed her eyes and smirked, (Very well then, Lucy. I suppose you have earned a final conversation with him before he dies.) 

When the Angel of Doom opened her eyes, she let out a gasp as the surging dark Aura that engulfed her dissipated instantly, her glowing red eyes returning to a familiar lighter shade of red. She glanced around frantically, as if not certain of what she was doing. When she looked down and saw Ash lying before her feet, a panicked gentler voice cried out, "My god... Ash!" 

Lucy dropped to her knees and held Ash in her arms. "Please, Ash! Wake up! I'm sorry!" The Trainer groaned faintly as he slowly opened his eyes, his breathing labored. " Is" Tears of relief and remorse streamed down the Lucario's face as she nodded, "Yes... It's me, Ash. I'm Lucy and no one else." The Trainer smiled weakly, "I can tell... You don't...have her...eyes..." But Lucy then asked, "Why did you miss? You could've...stopped her..." Ash frowned as he gazed at the two gashes in Lucy's shadowy left Aura wing. "I... I couldn't do it... I couldn't...bring myself to...kill you, Lucy..." He slowly raised his hand and set it upon hers. "I'm sorry..... I'm not gonna...wait any say it... Lucy... I love you..." 

Hearing Ash's words, Lucy began to tremble. "You said that several times during the fight... Do you mean as friends like before?" Ash shook his head, "No... Not as friends... You're far too...precious to me to be...just a friend anymore... When I said I...wanted to marry you someday, I...wasn't kidding..." Ash gagged as blood spurted from his mouth, having great difficulty speaking from a collapsed lung. Lucy was speechless. She had finally heard from the first and only human boy she had ever come to love the very words she had wanted to hear the most in her life. "Ash... You..." Lucy finally broke down and sobbed, "I love you so much! More than you could possibly understand! I'm sorry! I've been hiding it for so long! I should've told you as soon as I had the chance! Now look at you... You're about to...." Hearing Lucy finally speak her heart, Ash asked, "But... I thought you...wanted me gone...because I betrayed you..."

Lucy was once again reminded of the agonizing discovery of Ash's disregard of her pleas just before he slaughtered the Blackflame Five. She gazed down into his eyes and spoke in a breaking voice, "No one had ever betrayed me like that before... I understood that Thanatos and his followers had to die, but I begged you to not make them suffer. Even though you agreed to it, you butchered them as you killed them. I thought you cared nothing for me and might even turn on your own friends and family..." She then cried, "When I saw you show up here, I expected you to use any kind of excuse to justify your actions back then." But she then smiled solemnly as tears fell from her muzzle onto Ash's face. " did not. You took full responsibility for your actions and showed remorse for what you did. You showed that you were not a monster obsessed with self pleasure." Lucy then tightly gripped Ash's hand, "You proved yourself, Ash Ketchum! You proved that you're not a Devil! You're a truly wonderful friend!" Ash began to sob silently as he heard the words of the girl he was prepared to die for. She then sobbed, "I forgive you, Ash. You're the best thing to ever happen to me... I never want to lose you... I... I want to..." She then whispered, "I...want to marry you too..." 

At Lucy's words, Ash blushed deeply. "You...heard that?" Lucy nodded, "Yes... I'm honored to be worthy of your love, Ash... Everything the Angel of Doom said about me. All my hopes and desires... It was all true. All my life, the one thing I've desired more than anything else is a family. I wanted to find a man who would love me for who I am despite my flaws. A man who I could love forever and start a family with... Only...I never once imagined it would be a human who would win my heart." She then tenderly caressed the Trainer's face, "Ash... You are that man. You're the one I want... I love much... Words can't describe what you mean to me. I can't imagine life without you anymore. You've given me so much during our time together... How can I ever repay you?" The Trainer weakly muttered as he shivered, "I' cold... Please...hold me close..."

Acknowledging Ash's request, Lucy held him tightly to her chest in a warm embrace. "I'm here for you, Ash. I'll never lose faith in you again..." Minutes passed as she cuddled with the boy she loved. But Lucy then asked, "Ash... You're awfully quiet... Please, let me hear your voice..." But Ash offered no response. Lucy then looked down at his face. She froze with a combination of sorrow and despair as his eyes stared blankly back at her. "No... No... Why did it have to be you?!" 

Ash's body fell upon the rain-soaked ground as Lucy released her grip on him. She wailed, unable to accept that she had lost the only human boy she had ever loved to the demon within her soul. "Why... Ash... Why did I have to lose you too..." Lucy buried her face into his shirt and sobbed, "I love you... You deserved to live... Why... Why does this always happen...when I finally find someone who makes my life truly happy..." 

As she wept, a familiar dark Aura began to surge around Lucy once again. In her mind, the Angel of Doom spoke, "At last." Lucy's eyes reopened, once again a bold crimson hue. In a darker tone, Lucy spoke, "This pitiful host's will has been crushed. With a broken heart, she has no means of resisting my control." With Lucy's will utterly shattered, Doom grinned in absolute triumph. (All restraints on me have been removed. I cannot even remember the last time I felt such freedom! Devil of the Eternal Flame..... I shall remember your name for it was you who allowed this day to occur.) Doom faced the tallest plateau of raised earth in the ravaged wasteland. "Now... It is time to begin. The higher I am, the better the view as the heavens rain Doom upon Sinnoh. Then the rest of this world shall follow." 

The Angel of Doom began to walk northeast across the ravaged wasteland. But before she could get very far, she froze at the presence of another being. "This feels like..." She turned to face the direction of Ash's corpse as a metallic clank was heard. Kneeling before Ash was Ashton clad in his favorite suit of armor, Soul Calibur resting on the ground beside him. (Him again...)

Ashton gently cradled Ash's corpse in his hands. "Ash... Am I too late?" Soul Calibur whispered, "I detect no life within this body. He is gone." The viscount gritted his teeth as he held his descendant's body to his chest, shuddering in grief. "If he is indeed dead, why has the Eternal Flame not revived him yet? Has it been destroyed as well...?" He then sobbed, "Forgive me..." Upon laying Ash's body down gently, Ashton turned to face Doom and screamed, "How could you?! He was prepared to die for her! He loved her! How could you do such a thing to him?!" But the Angel of Doom chuckled, "I gave him exactly what he deserved. And what she wanted too. Death was his penalty for betraying her trust." 

Hearing Doom's words, Ashton growled, "What betrayal?! He has been loyal to her since the day he and Lucy met!" But Doom smirked, "Oh, but he was. All except for the time where he betrayed her in a most horrid fashion. Just north of the port town know as Slateport City in Hoenn. Do you recall?" Ashton pondered the location Doom spoke of for a moment before gasping, "North of... The Blackflame Five?!" Doom nodded, "Exactly. Do you remember? She understood that they had to die, but pleaded with that boy to not make them suffer in the process. And he agreed, did he not?" The viscount sighed, "He did, yet...his enemies were..." The demonic Lucario chuckled, "Oh, that's right. You went to retrieve him afterwards. You saw the carnage firsthand. So you know exactly what I am referring to." Ashton shuddered, "I know... I tried to keep it a secret as well... Did Lucy find out...back at Veilstone?" 

The Angel of Doom began to circle Ashton as she explained, "Precisely. The foolish leader of that so-called Team Galactic organization revealed the horrid truth to that weak little girl. Her faith in him was shattered for not only betraying his promise to her, but also lying about it for months afterwards. She saw him as a monster and entrusted me with protecting her sisters from his wrath. And I did just that, as you can plainly tell." However, Doom then chuckled, "However, that boy... He proved he was not quite a monster at all. He arrived here to make amends, taking full responsibility for his actions. He tried to stop me, but did not have the heart to kill me as that would have ended Lucy's life as well." Doom soon came to a stop in front of the viscount, "...It seems he succeeded in getting through to her. At the last second, that girl diverted my attack so that it missed his heart. His wound was fatal, but he did not die instantly. And when she learned how much she meant to him and vice versa, you can imagine how devastated she was to watch him die in her arms, by her own hands." 

Ashton growled as Doom began to cackle at Lucy's pain. Finally, he shouted, "Shut up!" He then pleaded, "Lucy! Please listen to me when I say this!" Doom smirked, "As you are about to die, I suppose I will allow you a final request. Go ahead and speak. She can hear everything I hear." The viscount spoke, "Do not hold it against Ash for what he did to the Blackflame Five! I know the Eternal Flame better than anyone else, as I know its risks! The first time a host of the Eternal Flame unleashes that power, they have no experience of how to handle it! They are consumed by the flame's nature! Fire is wild, destructive, and unpredictable! It should be no surprise that he killed his enemies in an unusually savage manner! What was more; the presence of the evil Soul Edge was also influencing his behavior at the time! And you know how vile that creature was!" He then brought his hand to his chest, "If you must blame anyone for his betrayal of his promise to you, blame me. It was I who gave the Eternal Flame to him, so I am the root of his betrayal from that day. Please... Forgive him."

Hearing Ashton's words, Doom smirked, "Hm... It seems your explanation has given her some small comfort and a greater understanding of his actions from that day. But there is no soothing her shattered heart. The man she loved is gone and nothing can bring him back. She has relinquished all control to me. The Angel of Doom. Nothing you do now can change that." The Angel of Doom began to cackle as the rainstorm poured down all around her. Ashton, with a heavy heart, kneeled next to Ash and held his hand just over him. (I was too late in reaching you... But...I will not let your demise be in vain.) A small flame emerged from Ash's corpse and was absorbed into Ashton's palm as he closed his eyes in prayer. (Please... Devil of the Eternal Flame. Lend me your strength.) 

Doom watched as Ashton moved his hand downward over Ash's face, closing his lifeless eyes. She laughed, "There is no need to be so upset, mortal. You will see him again very soon." However, she noticed the Z-shaped scars under the viscount's eyes become bolder. Suddenly, Ashton turned his head and glared at her, his eyes now the same as those of Ho-Oh herself. "Hm. So this is to become a battle between Angels, is it?" At those words, Ashton took Soul Calibur in hand and rose to a standing position while a large pair of flaming wings emerged from his back, the flames flickering in a rainbow of colors. He then pointed the spirit sword at the cursed angel, "I cannot allow you to escape, Angel of Doom. Where Ash has failed, I will succeed!" 

Ashton pointed Soul Calibur out to his side as the spirit sword began to glow. Her size began to increase rapidly as the blade widened and thickened. The Angel of Doom sneered, (That form again. Just like the last time...) In a moment, Soul Calibur had once again become a large great sword composed entirely of a shimmering blue crystal, her large crystal core shimmering just above the hilt. However, Ashton did not seem satisfied with the result as he took the sword in a reverse grip and plunged the blade into the ground before him. "The Flamberge would have proven to be nigh useless against this demon. Soul Calibur, you now have my undivided attention. I ask that you grant me yours in return." The spirit sword replied, "I see... This has not occurred since my previous master took me into his hands..."

Doom watched carefully as Ashton closed his eyes. Suddenly, Soul Calibur's crystal core began to glow as her holy presence descended over the area. Cracking sounds could be heard coming from the sword. Doom's eyes slowly opened wide as a cold sweat began to trickle down her face. " this sensation...? This sword... It is not the Skydiamond sword, yet it is..." The sword was engulfed by a brilliant light blue glow as it began to change. The blade branched out as it began to look more like a flat mass of crystal. The core near the hilt changed as well, constantly radiating a holy blue light from within. Soul Calibur's glow faded as it revealed its purest true form, looking more like a mass of glass-like crystal although it still bore a vague resemblance to a great sword. 

Soul Calibur's crystal core almost seemed to be glaring at the Angel of Doom like an angry eye. Soon, the earth began to quake slightly as a layer of equally translucent crystal began to creep up over Ashton's armor. Starting with his greaves, the crystal grew over his fauld, then his cuirass, and finally his gauntlets and pauldrons. Doom stood aghast at Ashton's form, his armor now coated by a full inch of purest crystal, though the crystal extending from the feather-like extensions on his greaves, pauldrons, and gauntlets reached two inches in length. However, Doom soon glanced to Ashton's left. (Is someone else there?)

In Doom's eyes, there seemed to be another man standing just to the left and behind Ashton. However, his form was ghostly as she could see right through him. He was also clad in crystal-coated armor that was near identical in shape to Ashton's armor, though the coloration of the armor itself was mostly a silvery white. He sported long blond hair and a noticeable vertical scar over his right eyelid. Similar to Ashton's torn cape, the two ends of a long blue scarf hung down from under his pauldrons. His stance was identical to Ashton's as even his eyes were closed while gripping a ghostly copy of Soul Calibur before him. Ashton then spoke, "My descendant was prepared to give his life for the woman he loved. I will not allow his failure to be in vain. I shall fulfill his final wish!" In unison, Ashton and the ghostly knight behind him opened their eyes and glared ahead at the Angel of Doom. The wraithlike man's eyes were a vivid shade of green. Ashton then spoke, the ghostly knight also speaking as their voices were heard in unison. "Prepare to face the wrath of my sword!" 

To the west, the advancing platoon of Lucario led by Tia stopped in their tracks. "This presence... Lady Tia, what could it be?" One of the young Demonslayers asked. The Alpha female of the Skydiamond clan replied, "I felt it too... Oracle, what was that?" The Oracle closed his/her eyes to focus. He/she suddenly gasped, "What is this I see? A sword of purest crystal? And a warrior clad in armor coated with the same crystal? Who is this man who would challenge the Angel of Doom at her strongest?" Tia then asked, "What of the other one? Does he still live?" After a moment, the Oracle bowed his/her head in silence. Tia sighed, "I see... We shall honor the fallen when the threat has been dealt with. Let us hurry to our new ally!" The Oracle led on, wasting no time in reaching the Angel of Doom's location. 

Ashton yanked Soul Calibur out of the ground and took a defiant stance as the ghostly knight behind him quickly faded away. He watched the Angel of Doom carefully, seeing that she was somewhat wary of his weapon. Doom muttered to herself, (I... To think that a weapon other than the Skydiamond sword could instill fear into me... No... NO!!! I will NOT allow myself to fear a mere mortal's weapon! Certainly not that of a pathetic human!) Ashton took a step back as Doom's demonic Aura began to surge even more than it was already. Her bold crimson eyes once again began to glow like fiery red beacons in the night. "How dare you raise such a weapon against me... So be it, human. I will show you the true potential of the Angel of Doom and all the powers of Hell!!!" 

At Doom's threat, Ashton braced himself. "Do your worst, demon." The Angel of Doom grinned wickedly as her flame-like dark Aura surged like an inferno. She then thrust her hand towards the viscount, "Gladly." A massive hail of projectiles that resembled arrows cloaked in dark fire were launched from Doom's surging Aura. Knowing better than to try and counter so many small projectiles at once, Ashton leapt high into the air as his wings carried him along. At the top of his climb, Ashton took off at maximum speed to evade a Focus Blast that Doom had fired at him. The Angel of the Eternal Flame observed Doom as he glided for a brief moment. "She certainly is versatile, able to adapt to any range. And she is actually able to think. Not even Night Terror was this formidable." 

As Ashton flew above her, Doom cackled, "What is wrong, mortal? Do you fear me?!" At her words, Ashton came to a stop and hovered in place. (It's strange... I should be afraid of her. I was most certainly afraid of Soul Edge and Night Terror. Yet... I feel very little fear at all. What is this drive I feel? This iron will?) As she watched Ashton hovering above her, Doom smirked as she formed an Aura Sphere in her hand. "If you will not attack... I will!" The dark orb flew at the viscount with pinpoint precision. However, Ashton raised Soul Calibur above his head with one hand. "Useless!" With a single stroke, Soul Calibur cleaved right through the dark Aura Sphere as the shadowy Aura dissipated rapidly. "A weapon...capable of repelling even MY power?" Doom snarled as she began to grasp the true danger her enemy's weapon posed to her. 

Ashton went into a nosedive towards the ground as Doom formed a pair of Aura Spheres in her hands. Just before he could crash into the ground, Ashton broke out of the dive with a flap of his wings and soared towards the Angel of Doom. The demonic Lucario launched one Aura Sphere after another, the viscount slashing through each that came his way. But just before Ashton could come within striking distance, Doom thrust out her palm and shouted, "Get away!" A sudden Psychic pulse sent the viscount flying away from her at great speed. He grumbled, "She can use even attacks Lucario would need time to perfect? This battle may take a while..." 

Doom took a moment to catch her breath, having never encountered an enemy who could close in on her so quickly from any elevation while armed with a weapon that could cleave right through her demonic Aura projectiles. What was more; she had witnessed the power of Soul Calibur firsthand during Ashton's duel with a Soul Edge-possessed Devil of the Eternal Flame several months earlier. (I could sense what happened at the end. The demonic presence faded away while the former host remained unaffected. That sword does not only have the power to slay me. It has the ability to ERASE me as well.) She carefully scanned Ashton as he regained his footing. (If he really intends to fulfill that monster's final wish, he is more than likely planning on erasing me from existence while leaving Lucy's body intact.) But she then smirked confidently, (Only he does not know that such an action would result in the very opposite of what that boy desired.) Doom called out, "You are a most challenging opponent, Angel of the Eternal Flame. But let's see how well you fare against a fellow blade master!" With a wave of her hand, the ground before Ashton began to heave as an armored hand reached out of it. 

An arm coated in a jet-black gauntlet rose out of the ground as it began to pull the rest of its body out of the rain-soaked soil. Ashton's eyes watched warily, "Why do I have a hunch I know what this is?" A man with spiky orange hair clad in black plate armor rose out of the ground, a worn rusted Ahlspiess lance in his right hand. His expression was blank, indicating that he was just a lifeless corpse being controlled by the Angel of Doom. She asked, "Do you know this man?" Ashton replied, "Of course... Captain Lance..." 

The reanimated body of the rogue knight Lance raised his signature weapon and gripped it in both hands. However, Doom was quick to notice that Ashton was not the least bit intimidated by the sudden return of his long deceased mentor. "Why do you seem so calm?" Ashton replied, "Let me take a wild guess. You summoned him as a means to frighten me and perhaps to simply cause psychological panic to my mind." He then calmly smiled, "This is not the first time I have faced my former mentor returned from the grave. When you chose who to summon, you chose very poorly." Frustrated, Doom made Lance charge Ashton with his lance held out before him. "Even so, I am aware of his skills as a knight!" As Lance closed in, Ashton raised Soul Calibur and thrust her toward, "Then you must also know that I have bested him twice in the past!" There was a loud shattering sound as Soul Calibur impaled herself through Lance's chest, breaking right through his breastplate. "As I said, you chose my opponent poorly." The spirit sword's crystal core began to glow as Lance's body, armor, and weapon began to crystallize. Once the reanimated corpse of Ashton's old friend was composed entirely of the same crystal that composed Soul Calibur, the viscount pulled the blade from its body. "I hope you prove to be a better match than he was, Angel of Doom." 

Despite Ashton remaining unfazed at the surprise return of his former mentor, the Angel of Doom smirked confidently. "I suppose you have a point. Humans are hardly surprising. But if that did not frighten you, then what about this?!" At her words, a massive serpentine object burst out of the ground to the north that towered into the skies. Ashton turned to face the creature, his eyes quivering in disbelief. "You... You can't be serious!!! Him?!" Two glowing red eyes gazed down at the viscount, bringing to mind only one name. "Yamata no Orochi... But...where are the other seven heads?" Doom remained silent as she grumbled to herself, (Summoning a demon of this caliber would take a great deal of focus... Summoning all eight of its heads would take time, and I cannot afford to leave myself open around that sword...) After regaining his focus, Ashton gripped the hilt of Soul Calibur with both hands, "You may be a true immortal, Orochi. But this time, I possess a weapon that is like poison to the wicked! Let's end this, old friend!" 

The Orochi's single head opened its massive mouth wide as a sinister black Chakra began to gather between its gaping jaws. It muttered, "Demon Art..." Ashton gulped, "Final Breath of the Doomed... Soul Calibur, I wish to try something new. Please, assist me." The spirit sword replied, "As you wish, young master." The viscount held his sword in his right hand while making a hand sign with his left. His Chakra began to billow around his hand as it was channeled into Soul Calibur's crystal core. She whispered, "What is this strength I feel... Young master, what are you doing to me?" The viscount replied, "You will see soon. Combine your own power with my Chakra and unleash it at my command." Just as the Orochi was about to unleash its demonic attack onto Ashton, the viscount pointed Soul Calibur's blade up at its face, "Soul Style: Heaven's Spear!" 

The Orochi launched a massive wave of its evil power at Ashton while a blinding ray of light blue energy was fired from Soul Calibur's blade. Upon colliding with each other, the ray of holy light shot right through the demonic attack as the black Chakra was erased almost instantly. A second later, the ray of light impaled the Orochi through its mouth, extending a short distance out of the back of its head giving the impression of a very long spear. Reacting to the vile presence, Soul Calibur's holy power began to rapidly crystallize the Orochi's body until only a colossal pillar of purest crystal was all that remained of it. "That's one demon down. Now!" A familiar dark voice spoke from behind him, "That look on your face when you first laid eyes on that creature was truly priceless. And it offered a nice little distraction." The Angel of Doom stood just behind Ashton with a mighty Focus Blast against his back. "Farewell, Angel of the Eternal Flame." 

Doom unleashed her demonic Focus Blast into Ashton, a dark explosion engulfing the viscount. But when the smoke cleared, all that remained of him was a heavily scorched chunk of earth. "Do not forget that I am not only skilled in the ways of the knight." Ashton spoke as he stood behind her. Doom closed her eyes, "I suppose I should not be surprised..." Wasting no time, he swung downwards and split the Angel of Doom in two. But upon being struck, the demonic Lucario burst into a puff of white smoke. "A diversion?" Doom's voice spoke in the viscount's mind, "But do not forget that you are not the only one here capable of using a variant of Substitute." Ashton glanced around; not being able to identify the location Doom's voice was coming from. (She's speaking with her Aura much like Lucario does... Where is she coming from?!) As if to answer him, a massive Dark Pulse exploded from the ground beneath him. "Wretched demon! Gah!" Ashton yelled as the unnaturally powerful wave of dark energy engulfed him. 

Once the Dark Pulse had run its course, Ashton growled as he realized that the Angel of Doom was still underground somewhere. "You can't hide from me, witch!" After making a few hand signs, Ashton planted both hands onto the ground. "Earth Style: Dark Swamp!" In an instant, the ground within thirty feet of him became a deep viscous puddle of mud. Somewhere beneath him, Doom was caught in the quicksand-like deposit of mud while using Dig. (Can't....breathe... And it's too thick to burrow through this gunk quickly...) Left with no choice, the Angel of Doom erupted from the pond of mud by using the monstrous recoil from a Hyper Beam. The explosion from the blast sent a large wave of mud nearly washing over Ashton as he also took to the air to evade the sticky mess. 

The Angel of Doom began to flap her wings to remain airborne as the recoil from the Hyper Beam sent her skyward. But her balance became unsteady as she began to veer to her left. "What's wrong with me?! Wait... My wing?!" Doom glanced at her left wing to find the two gashes caused by Ash's Magma Claw to have not closed at all, making it difficult for her to trap air under them. "Why has it not closed yet?! What was in those claws?!" Ashton replied as he hovered above her, "It must be an extension of his will! But if you're flight abilities are this cumbersome as you are now...." He then took a deep breath, "Fire Style: Grand Fireball!" At his words, an enormous fireball emerged from Ashton's mouth and pushed Doom into the ground below before exploding in a cataclysm of fire. 

Ashton dropped back to the ground as the sticky mud below him returned to being rain-soaked earth. He braced himself as he could see Doom's form regaining her footing inside the flames where she had fallen. "I should have known fire would be useless if even the Devil of the Eternal Flame could not slay you with it!" He then charged her with sword held high. But just before he could come within striking distance, Ashton froze in place. "What is...this?" Doom smirked as she held out her hand, "Even if you possess a means to erase me, it will not save you if I can stop you where you stand." 

The Angel of Doom began to slowly close her hand into a fist as Ashton groaned while feeling a great strain on his body. "It.... It feels like..." Doom spoke, "Something is crushing you? That is exactly what is happening..... What?" Doom found that she was having significant difficulty completely closing her hand into a fist. (How is he able to resist?! Is it...that layer of crystal? Nonsense! No one can resist this!) Soul Calibur's crystal core began to shimmer as she attempted to resist Doom's crushing psychic force. Before long, the layer of crystal that coated Ashton's armor could be heard cracking under the strain. "Almost there... Just a little longer... With all that armor, you just might end up becoming a tin can full of mush..." Doom chuckled as she struggled to crush Ashton into a ball of pulp. However, the viscount glanced upwards at something. Noticing her victim's gaze, she too glanced over her shoulder. To her horror, a blade of Aura was hurtling towards her while resonating with a holy presence. Doom let out a panicked gasp as she recognized the wavelength instantly, "No... NOOOOO!!!!!" Out of desperation, she released her psychic grip on Ashton and leapt out of the way with the use of Extremespeed just before the bladelike wave of Aura could dive right through the ground. Upon landing a significant distance away from Ashton, Doom growled, "So...they're finally here..." 

Ashton dropped to the ground as he staggered forward. "Where did that come from...?" A woman's voice spoke from behind him, "That was from me. Are you well?" The viscount turned to face the owner of the voice and found a female Lucario standing a short distance behind him. She wore a silk cloak and held a katana in hand that had a blue blade. A red cloth was tied over her left eye and she was clad in a light blue breastplate. Ashton nodded, "I appreciate the assist. May I ask you your name?" The Lucario replied, "I am Tia Effrine. Alpha of the Skydiamond clan." 

Recognizing the name of Lucy's clan, Ashton took a step back. "You are from Lucy's clan... Are you here to capture her?!" The Alpha replied, "Truth be told, no. She was in good hands until recently, so there was no need for us to intervene." Ashton relaxed, "Oh... I see. She always seemed to be afraid of you for some reason. But if you are not here to capture her, what is it you are here for?" Tia glanced past him, her eye gazing at the Angel of Doom while the demonic Lucario glared hatefully back at her. "We are here to slay the Angel of Doom. Now that she has emerged, she must be stopped. At any cost." 

Ashton gasped as Tia expressed her desire to slay Doom. "But...if you kill her... Won't Lucy die as well?!" Understanding Ashton's fear, Tia solemnly nodded, "It cannot be helped. If there was a way to stop her without slaying her, I would gladly take it. As you have survived this long against her, you know just how much of a threat to this world she is. Now, if you will excuse me..." But just before Tia could lunge at Doom, Ashton stood in her way. "Please! You mustn't! It was Ash's dying wish to save her from that demon!" Puzzled, Tia asked, "Ash...?" In response, an androgynous voice spoke, "I believe he means this boy, Lady Tia." 

Tia and Ashton turned to the south to see the Skydiamond Oracle kneeling next to Ash's corpse while their ten Demonslayer escorts stood guard. While keeping a close watch on the Angel of Doom, the two warriors approached the group. Tia then asked, "Oracle... Was this boy the source of the power you detected before?" The Lucario nodded, "Yes." One of the Demonslayer Lucario warriors asked, "Is he truly....gone?" The Oracle raised his/her hand over Ash's body as it was engulfed in a faint blue glow. After a moment, the Oracle shook his/her head slowly. "We were too late..." 

With a sigh, Ashton explained, "This was Ash Ketchum... He died trying to save Lucy from Doom's clutches..." Tia then asked, "A foolish attempt. Why would a mere child try to stand against the Angel of Doom at her strongest?" The viscount explained, "Love... He had fallen in love with Lucy after months together. It was his love for her that gave him the resolve to stand against the Angel of Doom, even though he was vastly outmatched..." With a scowl, Tia growled, "Then this will be the last life the Angel of Doom takes."

Tia turned to face Doom, who was keeping her distance as she knew better than to charge recklessly into a squadron of deadly Demonslayers. But Ashton grabbed the Alpha by the shoulder, "Must I remind you?! It was Ash's final wish to save Lucy! Not to kill her!" Tia grumbled, "I heard you the first time! But we have no choice! If the Angel of Doom is not stopped here, the world will meet the same fate this boy suffered!" But Ashton nodded, "I know. That is why you should let me deal the final blow." The Oracle asked, "You? Why?" The viscount glanced down at his sword, "Because...I am the only one of us here who can save her. Soul Calibur is the key to Lucy's salvation."

Hearing the name of the spirit sword, Tia asked, "Soul...Calibur...?" Ashton raised the large crystal sword, "This is Soul Calibur. The legendary Sword of Salvation. She does not only have the power to slay demons. She can ERASE them as well." The Oracle asked, "Erase... As in...destroy them body and soul?" He nodded, "Indeed. Several months ago, Ash here became a victim to demonic possession. I was forced to use Soul Calibur against him. With a single purifying strike, I destroyed the demonic entity within him while leaving dear old Ash here no worse for the wear." The Oracle nodded, "That's right... I felt the presence utterly vanish... So it was erased from existence entirely..."

Hearing the Skydiamond Oracle's words, Ashton turned to face him/her and asked, "You knew?" Tia explained, "The Oracle is not just able to keep tabs on the status of the Angel of Doom. No demonic entity in this world can escape the Oracle's watch when they make their presence known. In fact, I set out with a handful of my finest warriors to dispose of the source of that evil presence on that day. But I now see that it was you who beat us to it." Thinking back to that day, Ashton asked, "Then that presence I detected after the battle to the north..." One of the Demonslayers, a young male, spoke up, "Yeah, that was me. I scouted ahead to survey the situation. have some frightening aim with throwing weapons. I can't believe you almost castrated me from that distance despite not being able to see me..." Ashton gulped, "I... I did? My sincerest apologies..." 

Despite understanding that Ashton's weapon could cure a person of demonic possession without harming the host, Tia was hesitant to allow Doom to live. "I know that you mean well, sir knight, but the risks are still high. I still believe it would be wiser for us to slay Doom than to try and exorcize her from Lucy." But to her shock, Soul Calibur's voice spoke as the spirit sword's crystal core shimmered. "Lady Tia, have faith in my master. Together, we can rescue that maiden from her fate." Tia and her allies were left speechless from Soul Calibur's display of sentient thought. But Ashton then explained, "Please, Lady Tia... That boy... He was prepared to die in order to save her from the darkness. I intend to fulfill his final wish." He then walked forward until he was standing at Tia's side, "Please... If you have even a shred of respect for his dying will... Any respect at all for his love for her... For THEIR love..." He then gazed down at her with a solemn frown, "Then please... Do not take that away from him."

Hearing Ashton's plea, Tia turned to face Ash's corpse as her gaze fell upon the gaping hole in his chest. After a moment of thought, she smiled, "Very well then, sir knight. I shall honor your wish and do all that I can to insure that Lucy survives this fight." Ashton smiled gratefully, "You have my thanks, Lady Tia." However, she soon frowned, "But be warned. If it begins to seem that it is not possible for you to purify Lucy's body, I will deal the final blow at the first opportunity I get. Understood?" The viscount nodded, "I understand, Lady Tia. But unless that happens, please refrain from striking fatal blows on her." Tia nodded, "I shall. But before we begin, may I know your name?" The viscount smiled, "I am Ashton of Green Mile. Ashton Redford Crimson." 

Once she and Ashton had come to an agreement, Tia turned to face her comrades. "Oracle, you and the others wait at the edge of this meadow. And keep the boy's body safe. He deserves a proper burial when this is over." One of the Demonslayers asked, "Shall we assist you, Lady Tia?" The Skydiamond Alpha replied, "I believe it would be better with just me and this man. The fewer warriors running around on the battlefield, the better. Keep the Oracle safe." Having received their orders, the eleven Lucario began to head south over the ravaged wasteland as one of the Demonslayers carried Ash's corpse over his shoulder. But when they had created a great enough distance from Tia and Ashton, Doom screamed, "Do not delude yourselves! You cannot escape your Doom!" 

The Angel of Doom suddenly formed a Focus Blast in the palm of her hand and launched it at Tia's allies. "Oracle! Do not move!" The Demonslayers quickly formed a wall between the Oracle and the incoming projectile as they readied their spears. However, Ashton leapt in front of them and held Soul Calibur sideways like a shield of sorts. "Sir Ashton!" Tia shouted just as the Focus Blast exploded into the viscount. But when the smoke cleared, she stared at Ashton as he remained completely unharmed. The eleven Lucario that stood behind him were also unscathed. (That sword... Is it completely immune to the forces of darkness?) The Oracle pondered to him/herself, also bewildered by Ashton's impressive speed despite being clad in crystal-coated plate armor. One of the Demonslayers, a young female, spoke, "Sir Ashton... That was not necessary. We were prepared to intercept that attack." The viscount chuckled, "Oh... Really? I suppose I underestimated you. My apologies." The Oracle replied, "Do not fear for our safety. We shall be fine... Lady Tia?!" The Oracle gasped as the Angel of Doom lunged for the Alpha as her back was turned. 

"You're mine, Tia!" Doom screamed as she closed in on her most hated enemy. Tia turned and held the Skydiamond sword ready, but immediately remembered her promise to not inflict fatal injuries upon her. Just as Doom lashed out with her claws coated in black flames, Tia evaded to the side at just the last second. As she ducked the attack, Tia slashed at Doom's left leg and left a moderately deep cut in her shin. Ashton stared in shock as Doom yelped in pain, her wound not closing at all. "I thought she was immune to pain and that her injuries healed instantly..." Tia replied, "The Skydiamond sword I wield is lethal against demonic creatures. Including the Angel of Doom. It is with this weapon that I and my predecessors have vanquished the Angel of Doom time and again." She then turned to face the Oracle and her escorts, "Get going!" Without a word, the eleven Lucario vanished from sight as they headed south over the uneven terrain. 

The Angel of Doom growled as she used Psychic to push herself away from her two remaining opponents, her hand clutching the cut on her lower leg. "I cannot remember the last time I felt this pain..." Ashton rushed to Tia's side, "Are you well?" The Skydiamond Alpha nodded, "I am. Though I nearly forgot about avoiding striking fatal blows on her." Ashton scanned Doom's face, seeing that she was glaring directly at Tia. "Does she hold a grudge against you?" Tia nodded, "I wouldn't be surprised. I mean, if you were killed dozens, if not hundreds of times by the Skydiamond sword, wouldn't you instinctively hate anyone who wields it?" Ashton suppressed a laugh, "Good point. I suppose I would indeed feel some enmity towards my Achilles' heel whenever I laid eyes on it too." Tia then gripped the Skydiamond sword in both hands as she stood at Ashton's side, "We fight as one, Sir Ashton. I will do everything in my power to assist you." The viscount smiled, "And I shall protect you as well, Lady Tia. I am counting on you." But as the Angel of Doom regained her composure, she growled, "Tia... I will make certain your demise will be excruciatingly gruesome. As I will for you, Angel of the Eternal Flame." Her sinister dark Aura began to surge with previously unexpected fury as she prepared herself for an all-out offense against the wielders of the two holy swords. "You two shall be the first to witness Sinnoh's end!" 

The Angel of Doom made the first move as she formed a Hyper Beam in each palm. Tia muttered, "One for each of us, eh?" But Ashton shouted, "You can't strike us with such reckless use of force! Tia, scatter!" As soon as Doom launched the twin dark Hyper Beams at her enemies, the knight and Lucario dashed away from each other in opposite directions. Ashton took to the air while soaring just over the ravaged ground while Tia sprinted across the land at great speed. The raised plateaus around her quickly obstructed Doom's view of her distant opponents. "You cannot hide from me!" She then plunged her fist into the ground as she unleashed a massive Earthquake that spread throughout the entire wasteland. Ashton was unaffected as he was airborne, but Tia quickly lost her footing and began to fall towards one of Ash's leftover lava pools. "Lady Tia!" Ashton screamed as he swooped over to his ally as swiftly as he could. Just before she could fall into the molten earth, Ashton snatched her up in his spare hand. However, the Skydiamond Alpha chuckled, "What's wrong? I was in no danger! Lava is no threat to me!" Hearing this, Ashton asked, "Truly?! How can that be?!" Tia pointed back towards the rippling lava pool and smiled, "Throw me into it and I will demonstrate. Quickly! Before the Angel of Doom locates us!"

Taken Tia's word for granted, Ashton threw the Lucario warrior back towards the pool of lava that remained from Ash's final battle with Doom. Much to his surprise, Tia landed upon the pond of molten rock as if it were solid ground. "Is this an illusion...?" Ashton drew closer as the ground quaked all around him. Upon closer inspection, he realized that Tia was indeed standing upon the molten rock without suffering any ill effects. Tia smirked at his baffled expression and pointed at her feet. "Take a closer look, Sir Ashton." Heeding her words, Ashton closely examined Tia's feet. The bottoms of her feet were engulfed in a faint layer of her Aura. "A barrier?" Tia nodded, "We know full well of Doom's power, including being capable of tearing lava-spewing fissures in the ground. To protect ourselves, we devised a means of protecting ourselves from the intense heat without limiting ourselves to staying on just solid ground." At that moment, the Earthquake ceased. Ashton and Tia glanced around to find that the entire battlefield was perfectly leveled. There were no longer any raised plateaus of earth as they could plainly see the Angel of Doom a great distance away from them. Tia readied herself, "She comes. I have your back, Sir Ashton." However, as Doom dashed towards them, Ashton surprised them by plunging his left hand into the pool of lava. "You are not the only one here who is immune to lava's searing heat." 

Doom glared at Ashton as the viscount lifted his hand from the lava pool. Much to Doom's shock, his hand and the armor that coated it remained intact as it now held a glob of molten earth in its palm. Doom snarled, "How... I remember the last time... Even you were not immune to lava's heat!" But Ashton yelled, "That is because I have received the Devil's blessing! His strength has become my own!" He then chucked the glob of lava at Doom, aiming for her head. "Neither the Devil nor Angel can escape Doom!" At the last second, Doom ducked the projectile and launched an Aura Sphere directly at Tia. "This ends now, you eyesore!" Ashton gasped as the dark orb of Aura hurtled towards his ally. "Her?! What about me?! It was I who attacked first!" But Tia remained unfazed as she slashed right through the projectile with the Skydiamond sword, the Aura Sphere dissipating in an instant. "She will likely focus more on me due to her contempt for the Skydiamond sword and the warriors who slew her with it in the past. Take that opportunity and do what you need to do, Sir Ashton!" At this, Doom roared, "You... Very well then, Tia. I will smother both of you along with your swords!" 

Doom suddenly raised her hand to summon forth an eruption of lava. Sensing the rapidly growing heat beneath him, Ashton took to the air just before the ground could explode beneath him. Tia was not so fortunate as she was sent skyward by the sheer force of the eruption. "Lady Tia! Wait for me!" Ashton swooped under the Skydiamond Alpha as she fell, causing her to land on his back. "Nice save, Sir Ashton.... Eh?!" Below them, the Angel of Doom was launching a flurry of projectile attacks at them that were laced with her corrosive Aura. Tia sheathed her sword and grabbed onto Ashton's sides, "Quick! Do a barrel roll!" She suddenly shifted her weight to the left, causing Ashton to veer sideways. "What's a barrel roll?! Whoa!" Before long, the viscount went into a rotating spin, the many projectiles under to strike him. "Rolling? Wait... I see now! Lady Tia, hang on as tightly as you can! I have an idea." 

Tia clung to Ashton's armored body as tightly as she could while her ally began to roll increasingly faster. Soon, his wings began to form a layer of flames around them, causing him to resemble a giant burning arrowhead. Doom muttered, "What is this... A drilling attack? What did he call it again?" Ashton shouted his answer, "Phoenix Maelstrom!" Just before the attack could hit, Doom attempted to stop him by using Protect. The Phoenix Maelstrom slammed into the dark barrier as Doom tried to hold him back. "You cannot penetrate this, mortal. Protect defends against ALL attacks." However, the strain caused by the combination of the rapid rotation and great pressure began to create cracks in the barrier. Doom growled, "Impossible... No direct attack...can break through my..." Before she could finish speaking, the Phoenix Maelstrom burrowed right through the Protect barrier and burst through the center of Doom's body. The demonic Lucario was ripped apart into several pieces that were thrown every which way. Ashton quickly broke out of the attack and landed on his feet. "I never actually used that on a single opponent of that size before. What a gruesome injury..." Tia began to stagger as she dropped from Ashton's back. "Lady...Tia?" The Lucario seemed extremely dazed and even sick. She gagged, "I'm gonna hurl... So...dizzy..." But a familiar sinister voice caused her to regain her composure, "A most frightening attack, Angel of the Eternal Flame....." Tia quickly drew her sword as the Angel of Doom's scattered body parts began to gravitate towards each other. Each part was engulfed in her dark Aura. As they aligned, the Aura began to compact around the areas that had been completely destroyed in the attack and quickly regenerated her body to pristine condition. Ashton grumbled, "I should've known... Brute force and flames will not help much in this battle." 

The Angel of Doom raised her hand above her as lightning began to streak across the sky. Tia gasped, "Beware, Sir Ashton! The Angel of Doom can change and control the weather as she sees fit!" Feeling the need to end the fight quickly, Ashton lunged at Doom with Soul Calibur held high. But just before he could reach her, a lightning bolt struck the ground between them. "Gah! What?! Even lightning is hers to command?!" Doom smirked, "See for yourself, mortal." Another lightning bolt struck, narrowly missing Tia as she used Quick Attack to evade the swift strike. Ashton too was forced into evading the bolts of lightning, but found it more difficult than Tia as the full suit of metal plate armor he was wearing was acting as a sort of lightning rod. "Curse this weather!" Ashton evaded another bolt of lightning by taking to the air and flying as quickly as he could. "These blasts of lightning will never catch me at this speed!" 

As Ashton flew above her, the Angel of Doom smirked confidently. Tia screamed out, "Ashton, don't! You're too high up! Get back down here now!" Before he could react, a bolt of pure lightning shot down from the clouds and struck him in an eye blink. "Gwaaaaahhhhgrrrrrgggllle!!!!!" Ashton yelled as the current of electricity coursed through his body. Tia growled, "Crap... The higher he is, the less distance between him and the clouds. He couldn't possibly evade in time. Not with that metal armor attracting the lightning." With a dazed expression, Ashton fell from the sky with his wings slowing the rate of descent somewhat. Upon seeing him hit the ground, Doom dashed over to him with a Focus Blast forming in her right palm. His eyes rolled around in his head while foaming at the mouth. Doom then aimed the large orb of Aura at his head and growled, "As promised, I will send you to see your friend now." 

Doom smirked in satisfaction as she prepared to murder the Angel of the Eternal Flame. However, she suddenly felt a cold chill on her shoulder and a brief gust of wind. Tia spoke from her left, "You will do no such thing." At those words, Doom's entire right arm detached at the shoulder. The Focus Blast, no longer being sustained by its wielder's concentration, dissipated in seconds. Doom screamed in searing agony as the holy energy from the Skydiamond sword burned her wound, preventing her from healing. "Damn you, Tia! Damn you and all the Skydiamond clan!" Her left hand grasped her bleeding shoulder socket, trying to stop the blood flow. (Not yet... I must hold out until the healing can begin again...) 

Tia took a defensive stance while gripping her sword tightly. She knew better than to rush at Doom while the cursed angel was desperate. However, Doom soon smirked as she developed an idea. "Are you going to attack or not? Or must I make the first move?!" She then let go of her bleeding shoulder and formed another Focus Blast in her remaining hand. Tia gasped as she then aimed it down at the helpless Ashton. "Coward!" The Skydiamond Alpha ignored her better judgment and lunged at the demonic Lucario. But at mid-lunge, Doom turned and aimed the Focus Blast at her instead. "Gullible twit." Tia was engulfed in a dark explosion as the Focus Blast struck her at pointblank range. To her disappointment, Doom watched as her victim was sent flopping across the field while still in one piece. "Right... Her sword and armor provides resistance against the forces of darkness. But it won't save her for much longer!"

As Tia regained her footing, Doom dashed towards her with the intention of using Rock Smash. However, a voice muttered, "The condition..... To protect the life of someone precious..." Being canines, both Tia and Doom easily heard the voice. Tia asked, "Ashton?" Doom, not paying any mind to the reason behind the words, continued to near Tia rapidly. But Ashton then shouted, "The First Gate! Gate of Opening..... Open!" At those words, the Angel of Doom was sent flying upwards from a shattering kick to her chin. Tia gasped, Ashton now right before her with one leg stretched upwards. "Ashton?! Are you well?!" The viscount replied, "Get away! Quick!" He then leapt straight up after Doom and positioned himself behind the demonic Lucario. Ropes of fire quickly extended from his hands and entangled his opponent in seconds. Doom growled, unable to turn around. (He is being exposed to my Aura, yet he is not in pain? Is that crystal armor shielding him?) Once his opponent had been secured, Ashton turned himself and Doom upside-down and went into a rapid spin. "Primary Lotus!" 

Tia jumped backwards just as Ashton plunged into the ground with Doom in his clutches. The two hit the ground with a crash, leaving a sizable crater. Ashton soon leapt from the dust cloud that formed before the rain could dissipate it. Tia smiled, "Thank you, Ashton. Or should I say Sir Ashton?" But the viscount scowled, "At this point, the use of honorifics makes little difference. She's not done yet." But he soon dropped to one knee, still dazed from being struck by lightning. "It would seem I have acquired Ho-Oh's weaknesses as well... I must take note from now on..." Just then, a small flame fell by his face. "Hm? I didn't make that..." Upon looking upwards, Ashton and Tia stood aghast as the rain had been replaced by a hail of fireballs. Tia muttered, "The sky shall rain fire... It's really happening..." However, Ashton quickly regained his composure. "Stay close to me, Tia. This is nothing." 

Taking Ashton's calm words seriously, Tia stood just behind him. Ashton then stabbed Soul Calibur into the ground beside him and raised his arms to the sky as fire fell all around him. But as they fell, the flames began to swerve in flight. More and more, the flames began to draw together to form a whirling cyclone of flames that towered above the Angel of the Eternal Flame. Doom grumbled as she saw that every flame that fell from the heavens was being drawn into the ever-growing vortex above Ashton. (Of course... He has been blessed by the phoenix. I should've known better than to try this.) Above them, the swirling vortex of flames began to take on the form of an oriental dragon. Ashton chuckled, "I'm surprised I did not have to become dizzy to use this." He then brought his arms downward as he shouted, "Fire Style: Inferno Dragon Cyclone!" At his command, the fiery dragon dove towards the Angel of Doom with jaws open wide. Doom remained stationary as the serpent 'devoured' her in a cataclysm of fire. 

Ashton took Soul Calibur into his hand once again while watching the pillar of flames engulfing the spot where Doom had been standing. "I suppose I do not need to ask this, but is she still conscious?" Soul Calibur's voice replied, "The evil presence remains unflinching. Her control remains firm." Suddenly, the inferno was snuffed out as Doom roared in frustration as her dark Aura billowed intensely. The surging black Aura seemed to engulf the wound on her shoulder, rapidly regenerating her severed arm. The two gashes in her left wing quickly closed as well. Frustrated by Doom's endurance, Ashton gripped Soul Calibur with both hands. "I see that indirect attacks will be of little use. Tia, follow after me!"

Doom prepared herself as Ashton lunged at her directly with sword in hand. Knowing that suffering a significant wound from the spirit sword would mean the end of her, the Angel of Doom focused entirely on evasion while evading the surprisingly swift sword swings from her opponent. To counter him, Doom formed a pair of dual swords from her demonic Aura and began to slash back at her attacker. However, the dark Aura blades had little to no effect on the holy crystal that coated his armor. And Ashton was not careless enough to allow his opponent to strike him in the head. Detecting another holy presence coming from behind her, Doom leapt sideways as Tia joined the fray with a diving slash with her sword. But after a moment more of speedy evasion against the two warrior's holy weapon, Doom screamed, "ENOUGH OF THIS CHARADE!!!" Ashton and Tia froze in place as Doom outstretched both arms, holding each of them in place with Psychic. 

Tia growled, "Such a cowardly tactic..." The Angel of Doom smirked triumphantly as she raised her two captives a short distance above the ground, "Petty insults will not save you, Tia." She then forced the two warriors to open their hands, causing them to release their weapons. "There is less shielding you now." Doom then glared at Tia and growled wickedly, "Tia... You shall die first." The demonic Lucario began to close her hand into a fist, Tia's breastplate still projecting some resistance to Doom's advances. As he watched his ally straining under Doom's mental pressure, Ashton closed his eyes. (Blast... As I am now, I can't do anything to help... But maybe...) He then muttered, "The Second Gate... Gate of Rest..... Open." Doom felt the sudden surge of Chakra in Ashton's body, but paid him no heed as her mental grip did not release. Realizing that he was still trapped by Doom's power, Ashton growled, (There's only one thing left to try... I still have not yet met the condition, but... If I do not use it now, we may not live to get another chance!) 

Much to Doom and Tia's shock, blue Chakra began to surge around Ashton like a flame. Tia muttered, "Blue flames...? No, there's no heat." Doom was equally puzzled by this development as she stopped trying to crush Tia with psychic force and began to watch her other victim in curiosity. "Peculiar..." His flesh began to turn red as his blood flow accelerated, his eyes closed as he focused. Finally, Tia shouted, "Ashton, what are you doing?! What is this?!" The viscount then opened his eyes as he yelled, "The Third Gate! Gate of Life... Open!" His eyes had become entirely white as if the sclera had absorbed everything else in them. In an instant, Doom was struck in the stomach with enough force to blow away the rain that was falling around them. " this...power...?" Doom gasped, all the air in her lungs being forced out of her by Ashton's earthshaking punch. The instant inertia caught up to her, the Angel of Doom was sent soaring over the horizon at an incredible speed to the west. Tia landed on her feet as soon as Doom's mental grasp on her had been released. "Ashton... What in the world did you do?!" 

Not wanting to overexert himself any longer, Ashton gasped as he closed the Third Gate within him. His eyes and skin tone returned to their previous colorations. But he also dropped to his knees while gasping for breath. "I was only in that state for ten seconds....and I'm already this tired?!" Tia helped the viscount to his feet, "You amaze me, Sir Ashton. But it seems such a move has a dangerous cost." Ashton nodded, "It does. That's why I dispelled it once the attack had connected. I'll be back on my feet in a moment." But he then turned to Tia and panted, "Lady Tia... I'm sorry, but I fear you are only getting in the way here. Your weapon is only capable of either wounding or slaying the Angel of Doom. I am the only who can stop her while sparing Lucy's life. I beg of you... Please allow me to fight this fight alone."

Hearing Ashton's request, Tia sighed, "Sir Ashton... Facing the Angel of Doom alone is practically suicide. There is no way I'm sitting this fight out!" But before Ashton could object, she smiled, "I will keep my distance and provide you with cover fire. My attacks will not be enough to truly harm her, but they should be able to disrupt her attacks and give you some brief openings." She then retrieved the Skydiamond sword and returned it to its scabbard. However, she then gave Ashton a stern gaze, "But remember my warning. If it begins to seem that slaying Doom while sparing Lucy is impossible, I will slay Doom the instant I get a chance." Ashton nodded, "I know..." Tia then patted him on the arm, "You're a good man, Sir Ashton. I would hate to see you die here." But before she could move, Ashton dropped to one knee and took Tia's hand into his grasp and kissed her on her hand. "You have my thanks, Lady Tia. I will do well to not disappoint you." Though not expecting such a gesture, Tia retained her composure and smiled softly in thanks. The Skydiamond Alpha then retreated to a distant spot in the vast field and watched for Doom's return. Ashton turned and faced west, knowing that the demonic Lucario would return shortly. 

After flying at nearly supersonic speeds through the air across Sinnoh, the Angel of Doom finally came to a stop upon crashing headfirst into Mt. Coronet's mountain range. "Such strength and speed... He could've finished me right there if he was holding his weapon..." Understanding the true threat of the Angel of the Eternal Flame, Doom's wrath engulfed her as the stone around her began to melt from the sheer intensity of her dark Aura. "Angel of the Eternal Flame... You have frustrated me for the last time!" Using Extremespeed, Doom burst from her landing spot and dashed across the land back towards Ashton's location. "I have a special surprise for you, mortal... Though you will wish I do not give it to you." 

As she neared the battlefield, Doom formed another Focus Blast in her palm. Focusing her Aura into her feet, she sprinted forward with an intense burst of speed and reached Ashton before his eyes could even detect her. "Here already?!" Ashton gasped, having not even noticed Doom standing before him until she had her Focus Blast held against his chest. Without a word, Doom unleashed her demonic Aura into Ashton in a massive explosion. The viscount was sent a surprising distance away from his opponent, landing face-up while seemingly unconscious. Tia watched in shock as Ashton lay where he had fallen, unable to move. "Come on, Ashton... You've survived the likes of this earlier..." 

The Angel of Doom slowly approached her prey, watching for any signs of movement. Soul Calibur had fallen from Ashton's grasp upon impact with the ground, now lying out of reach. But Ashton thought to himself, (Soul Calibur, I wish to try something soon. Be ready.) As Doom stood over Ashton's body, she smirked in triumph. "You put up a remarkable fight, mortal. But in the end..." She then gathered her strength into her hand for a Focus Punch. "No one can escape their Doom. Not even you, Angel of the Eternal Flame." 

Doom smashed her fist right through Ashton's crystal-coated cuirass, impaling his chest on her arm. However, his body then burst into a flash of fire as Doom was temporarily disoriented by the cloud of flames. Tia smirked, "Clever diversion, Ashton." At her words, Ashton leapt into the air as he burst from the ground just ahead of where his Fire Clone had fallen. He raised Soul Calibur above his head as a beam of holy light engulfed the blade and extended past it, tripling the spirit sword's range. "Disappear, you demon! And never return!" Doom glanced upwards, immediately recognizing the attack that completely erased the evil Soul Edge from the world several months earlier. "If that hits....." Ashton brought the sword down hard in an overhead swing, a long trail of crystals spreading out over the ground from both sides of the sword where it struck. 

Ashton glanced around, certain that Doom was able to evade at the last second. His eyes soon detected her in the distance, panting with a look of sheer panic on her face. Doom muttered, "Too close... Far too close..." Tia clenched a hand into a fist, "He almost had her... Now I'm certain he can pull it off. Do it, Ashton. You've convinced me." The viscount climbed to his feet and slowly approached a very frustrated Angel of Doom. "Soul Calibur... Are you ready?" The spirit sword replied, "I am... However, I do not know how long I can maintain it. I insist that you be swift." Ashton soon stood before Doom, their eyes glaring at each other warily. He then frowned, "You have pushed me to resort to a new tactic, Doom. I pray you are ready for it." The Angel of Doom growled, "Do you worst, mortal. I still have a special surprise in store for you." But the Angel of the Eternal Flame smirked, "As do I. You have faced the Devil. You have faced the Angel. Now you shall face the Seraph!" 

The Angel of Doom raised an eyebrow at Ashton's threat. "A Seraph?! Explain yourself, mortal!" Ashton pulled out his armor scroll from the pouch on the back of his hip and unfurled it while sticking Soul Calibur into the ground. "It is said that the seraph is the highest ranking among angels." He then pressed his hand against a symbol written in the scroll. At that instant, a small puff of white smoke burst from the scroll as Ashton returned it to his pouch. In his other hand was a familiar helmet with two wing-like extensions reaching above the forehead. The helmet was mostly the same shade of blue as the majority of his armor, those the 'feathers' of the wings were a sunset orange. Upon placing it on his head, Ashton took Soul Calibur in hand and held her in both hands before his face. "It's time, old friend." 

Soul Calibur's crystal core began to glow brilliantly as a holy white aura began to billow over her great blade. Much like his armor, a layer of translucent crystal quickly coated Ashton's helmet. However, the crystal that coated his helmet and armor also began to radiate a billowing white aura much like that which shone from Soul Calibur's blade. Feeling the gradual rise of Soul Calibur's holy energy, the Angel of Doom began to quiver as she began to realize that her very existence was in mortal danger. "This holy presence... It... What are you, mortal?!" To her shock, Ashton's large flaming wings began to become encrusted with the same crystal as the intensity of Soul Calibur's power rose. In moments, the wings of the Angel of the Eternal Flame became wings of purest crystal, the still-burning wings of flames trapped inside. 

Ashton began to fidget as if he was trying to force something out of him. Soon, cracking sounds could be heard coming from his wings. Much to Doom and Tia's shock, Ashton's two great wings broke into six, becoming three pairs of crystallized wings. Tia gasped, "Six wings?! Ashton, who or what are you?" Soul Calibur then whispered, "Young master, I do not know how long I can sustain this level... Please, do not delay." Ashton smiled, "Thank you, my friend. Please maintain this state for as long as you are able." He then lowered his sword and stared directly at Doom. "What am I, you ask? I am your savior and your executioner. I am an angel who has become more than an angel." He then raised Soul Calibur above him and pointed her towards the Angel of Doom. "As I am now, I stand as the Seraph of the Eternal Flame!" 

The Angel of Doom began to quiver at Ashton's presence, the holy energy of Soul Calibur utterly frightening her. "You... How dare you..... A seraph?! You would dare to believe you can surpass a true angel of death?!" Her fear and frustration turning to anger and hate, Doom let out a piercing roar as her dark Aura flared around her. The two shadowy Aura wings on her back doubled in size and length while her claws extended further as well. Her red eyes glowed like torches in the rainy night. The sky above became increasingly distorted as even the moon seemed to turn red from Doom's presence. She roared, "You may have become more than a mere mortal, but you stand before a goddess! My patience with you has finally ended, mortal!" Ashton replied, "As has mine with you! Let's end this, demon! Do your worst!" 

Doom made the first move as she began to levitate, raising her hands above her as a massive eruption engulfed the area around them. Tia was able to shield herself from the scorching heat of the lava as she kept her distance. "She has finally thrown off the façade. Brace yourself, Sir Ashton. This is an enemy the likes of which you have never faced before." Unaffected by the lava from the presence of the Devil's power within him, Ashton lunged at Doom with a thrust of his sword. "Futile!" Doom roared as she thrust out her palm, intensifying the Aura right in front of her to impossibly concentrated proportions. Ashton struggled to force Soul Calibur through the flame-like Aura, but was unable to pierce it. "Darkness so fierce, even light cannot penetrate it?! How can it be so?!" Soul Calibur replied, "She must focus greatly to resist us! Do not lose faith, young master!" 

After a brief struggle, Doom repelled Ashton with a Psychic pulse that sent him flying away from her. "Cheap shot!" Ashton shouted as he quickly regained control of himself with a flap of his six wings. "My control over myself in flight has never been this responsive..... Heh, I suppose six is better than two." He then held Soul Calibur out to his side. "Soul Style!" Wind began to whistle around the blade as it was charged with Soul Calibur's holy energy. Ashton then swung the sword like a large fan, "Healing Winds!" A white-colored gale of wind was sent towards Doom, who strengthened the Aura directly before her. But while her body was protected, the wind still struck her limbs by swerving around her defenses. She groaned as she felt pain, though not as intense as if the damage had been caused by the Skydiamond sword. The pain felt more like she had been exposed to intense cold. Upon inspecting her limbs, Doom found that thin layers of holy crystal had coated her. "It feels like ice... It causes freezing burns..." She quickly destroyed the small deposits of crystal with Psychic. "Even so, you will never triumph over me, mortal!" 

Ashton took to the air as he pulled a metal fan of sorts from the pouch on his hip and unfurled it. "Demon Wind Shuriken. Give me a hand, Soul Calibur." At his words, the four blades of the massive shuriken began to also become encrusted with crystal. In seconds, the reach of its blades had increased with the layer of crystal growing over it. Instead of an intimidating black weapon, the shuriken became an extravagant windmill of pale crystal. "Beautiful... Demon Wi... No... Heaven Wind Shuriken." Ashton then threw the crystallized weapon towards Doom, "Heaven Wind Shuriken! Windmill of Light!" But Doom smirked as she watched the shuriken flying towards her, "Honestly... Does he really expect me to be struck by such a large and obvious weapon at this range?" With a sneaky grin, Ashton tossed Soul Calibur upwards and quickly made a series of hand signs before she fell back down into his grasp. "Ninja Art: Shuriken Shadow Clone Jutsu!" 

Much to Doom's horror, the single shuriken flying towards her became dozens of equally crystallized shuriken at Ashton's words. "You... TRICKSTER!!!" The Angel of Doom went into a panic as she tried to deflect and evade the flurry of holy weapons, knowing full well that a direct hit would mean disaster. Just as the storm of shuriken was about to pass, two got through Doom's defenses and severed her legs just above the knees. She fell flat onto her face as a chilling cold crept over her wounds. Doom growled as she tried to regenerate her legs, but found that a layer of crystal covered her stumps. "That crystal... It does not negate my healing... It blocks it!" She growled in frustration, knowing she would not be able to regenerate her legs until the crystal covering her wounds was removed. 

Unable to move with her legs, Doom levitated herself off the ground with Psychic. "You are most frustrating, Seraph of the Eternal Flame. Being able to harass an Angel this effectively makes your title more than suitable." But she then roared, "But you will still meet your Doom in the end!" She then began to form an Aura Sphere, but used Psychic to levitate it above her. Ashton watched in curiosity, then horror, as the Angel of Doom created a hundred dark Aura Spheres and levitated them above her. He gulped, "This could be a problem..." Doom cackled, "You have my thanks, Devil of the Eternal Flame! You were the one who inspired this tactic!" Doom then pointed at Ashton as the cluster of Aura Spheres was launched in unison. "Not good!" 

Knowing better than to try to evade so many Aura Spheres at once, Ashton leapt towards one of the many lava pools that had been formed over the course of the night. Upon getting above it, Ashton was sent soaring upwards in a lava geyser. Several of the Aura Spheres struck the area around the lava pillar that was rapidly growing, exploding with great force. Doom muttered, "I did not cause that eruption..... Did he...?" As the growing pillar of lava reached higher into the sky, it curved and began to swerve through the air as if it was alive. Doom snarled as she saw Ashton standing atop the front of it while seemingly guiding its direction. The viscount chuckled, "Do not forget, Angel of Doom! Some of the Devil's power has been granted to me! The molten blood of the earth is mine to command!" 

Ashton placed Soul Calibur between his wings and proceeded to make a series of hand signs. During the hand sign sequence, the lava pillar began to become more streamlined with the end resembling a serpent's head. Ashton shouted as he clasped his hands together, "Magma Style: Molten Leviathan!" The lava 'snake' opened its jaws wide and let out a hiss that seemed to be caused by the rain coming in contact with the lava and rapidly evaporating. In an attempt to intercept the attack and to strike Ashton, Doom guided the rest of her Aura Sphere barrage into the lava serpent. Each Aura Sphere exploded forcefully into the lava, causing large bursts of it to fall off. But the sheer size of the creature prevented it from completely falling apart as it stayed intact just long enough to engulf the Angel of Doom in a sea of lava. 

Ashton hovered above where Doom had once stood. Slowly, the demonic Lucario began to emerge from the lava, her fur and flesh having been completely melted off. Ashton winced, "I hope Lucy can't feel that..." Doom smirked as she began to heal, "The heat of that lava removed the crystal on my thighs. I suppose I should thank you, mortal." But as Doom restored her body, Ashton once again made a series of hand signs. "That lava will take too long to cool with just the rain pouring down on it." As he made the hand signs, the countless raindrops that were falling from the clouds began to gravity to a spot high above the battlefield. Doom looked on in bewilderment as she could no longer feel the rain soaking her fur. "A growing water vortex in the sky?" Above them, a steadily growing whirlpool of water was forming with every raindrop adding to its mass. Upon finishing the hand sign sequence, Ashton called out, "Water Style: Giant Vortex Jutsu!" At his words, the vortex plummeted towards the ground in a spiraling pillar of rainwater. It struck Doom directly while exploding across the battlefield, cooling the lava nearby into harmless rock. 

The Angel of Doom remained still, somewhat annoyed by being so utterly drenched. "I smell like wet dog now... What was the purpose of that attack? It did not harm me at all." However, she soon heard what sounded like footsteps approaching from behind that sounded like someone was walking on broken glass. "Who goes there... What?!" Doom narrowly reacted in time to restrain the crystallized body of Lance as it swung its crystal lance at her. Ashton smirked, "Soul Style: Crystal Guardian." Doom roared as she jumped backwards and looked up at Ashton, "Is this your doing?!" The viscount laughed, "Who else could it be?!" Doom was careful to evade the lance thrusts from Lance's crystallized Ahlspiess, knowing that it likely carried some of Soul Calibur's holy energy in its blade. But after parrying one such thrust, Doom clenched her right hand into a fist, "Worthless puppet!" With a single punch, Doom obliterated Lance's crystal body into countless shards. Ashton winced at the sight. "I.....really do not want to know what would happen if she were to do that to me..." 

As Doom turned to gaze upwards at him, Ashton laughed at her clearly annoyed expression. "What's it like having one of your own puppets turn on you?! Quite a shock, is it not?!" Doom grumbled, "It was. What an irritating tactic..." But Ashton then smirked, "Oh, but that wasn't your only puppet, was it?" Doom gasped as she glanced over at the crystallized body of the Yamata no Orochi that still towered over the battlefield. It began to move before soon glaring down at the demonic Lucario with shimmering blue eyes. The crystal serpent opened its colossal jaws as a massive orb of holy energy began to form between them. "Finish her, Orochi! Final Breath of the Doomed!" However, Doom seemed abnormally calm at the time as her gaze seemed to be directed to the sky. 

(What's wrong with her? She's about to be destroyed entirely and she isn't even trying to counter it?) Ashton pondered to himself as the crystallized Orochi gathered more of Soul Calibur's holy energy into the gap between its jaws. Suddenly, Tia screamed out from below, "SIR ASHTON!!! ABOVE YOU!!!" The viscount glanced up reflexively. His face turned white in horror, "Wha.... What is..." Parting the clouds above the battlefield was a massive fiery meteor that was easily the same size as the Orochi. Doom began to cackle manically as the colossal rock steadily plummeted towards the Orochi. Ashton screamed, "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!" The Angel of Doom laughed, "I saved this for you, mortal! Consider yourself blessed to witness this grand event!" 

At the edge of the battlefield, the Skydiamond Oracle gasped as he/she watched the meteor falling towards the towering crystal structure in the distance. One of the Demonslayers gulped, "It's happening..... Oracle, what should we do?!" The Oracle replied, "Gather around me. And for good measure, channel your Aura into me." The Oracle gripped his/her staff with both hands and stood it on the ground while channeling his/her Aura into it. The crystal atop the staff began to shine brightly and emitted a translucent dome of blue Aura around them. Moments later, there was a deafening crash and blinding flash of light as the meteor struck. 

The Angel of Doom hovered above the battlefield as she waited for the dust to settle. "It's over..." She smirked as the crystallized Orochi was nowhere to be seen, utterly obliterated by the meteor. "I wonder if any pieces of that mortal remain..." When the smoke finally cleared, Doom stared at the scene before her. The resulting crater caused by the impact was severe, having caused the field to become a valley of sorts. "Strange... The crater should have been much larger..." However, she gazed ahead and saw Ashton still hovering in place with both arms outstretched, a look of exhaustion on his face as he was panting. Doom snarled, "Of course... You command flames. You must have slowed the meteor's descent just enough to soften the impact with the flames surrounding it as a medium." But Doom then raised her arms to the sky, "But can you do it twice?!"

Ashton gazed upwards as a second meteor that was even larger than the first began to plummet through the clouds. In panic, Ashton dropped to the ground and placed Soul Calibur into the ground tip first. He then reached upwards as he tried to use the flames coating the meteor to slow its descent. A moment later, Doom noticed that the meteor's descent was gradually slowing. "Heh... Useless." The demonic Lucario let out a shout as the meteor suddenly broke apart, becoming a hail of flaming meteorites with each being no smaller than a Wailord. Ashton focused harder, struggling to contain the widespread meteor shower that would soon ravage the entire area. Much to Doom's surprise, the meteorites began to slow as well. "A master of flames indeed. But..." To Ashton's horror, each of the meteorites melted in seconds, becoming massive globs of lava that plummeted towards him and the entire area. Doom cackled, "You may have absolute control over flames, but surely you do not have enough experience to handle so much molten earth at once!" Ashton closed his eyes, pleading in his heart for a miracle.

Moments passed, Ashton waiting for the moment when the lava rain would engulf him. When twenty seconds passed with no change, the viscount slowly opened his eyes. To the shock of himself and everyone else present, the lava above him had stopped falling at no fewer than fifty feet off the ground. The lava globs had spread out and connected to form what seemed to be a 'ceiling' of molten rock. Relieved, Ashton whispered, "I owe you a great debt, Ash..." He then guided all of the lava to a distant section of the valley and dumped it there. "It should be no threat over there.... What?!" Just as he grabbed Soul Calibur's hilt, Doom struck Ashton in the belly with Bullet Punch. She growled, "Must I do everything myself?!" 

Completely out of patience, Doom began to pummel Ashton with an unrelenting barrage of melee attacks. "You...wretched mortal! You are...a constant thorn in my side!" Doom shrieked as she struck Ashton over and over with just her fists. After a significant amount of punishment, Soul Calibur shouted, "Enough!" Crystals suddenly crept across the ground and encrusted over Doom's body, restraining her. "Gaaah! You're dead! You're all dead!" Ashton jumped backwards as he caught his breath, having not expected Doom's speed to be so great. "Thank you, Soul Calibur..." But the spirit sword wheezed, "Young master... I do not...have much longer... Please, hurry..." The viscount nodded, "I see. I grow weary of this duel as well."

As the crystal restraints cracked while Doom struggled to break free, 500 man-sized flames appeared all over the battlefield before solidifying. Doom gazed around carefully, seeing that each was a copy of Ashton. However, there was a glaring flaw. Each copy was clad in just his armor without the layer of crystal that was currently coating him. They were also wielding the Flamberge instead of Soul Calibur. She chuckled, "You stand out among this crowd, mortal. And they cannot harm me with simple manmade weapons." Ashton calmly replied, "They don't need to. My Fire Clones here have only one simple objective." At those words, all 500 Fire Clones lunged at the Angel of Doom. 

Doom burst from her crystal restraints and immediately began to obliterate any Fire Clones that came near her. "Pitiful reproductions! Is this really your best?!" During the skirmish, Ashton took to the air high above them and hovered in place. "Wait... Where is.... No!" Doom suddenly realized that the Fire Clones attacking her were just a diversion and that Ashton was somewhere nearby. After taking a moment of scanning her surroundings while enduring any attacks that managed to get through her dark Aura, she saw a crystal-clad entity hovering high above her. "You cannot fool me, mortal!" But upon realizing that his ploy had been discovered, Ashton had all of his remaining Fire Clones toss their swords high into the air. The swords, each being composed of solidified flames, floated in place under Ashton's will with the blades pointing towards Doom. As each of the Fire Clones vanished in puffs of flame, the swords became engulfed in flames. "Behold! Rain of Burning Steel!" 

The 400+ Flamberge copies plummeted towards the Angel of Doom in a spectacular hail of flaming blades. While Doom tried to break through the onslaught of projectiles, Ashton was focusing Soul Calibur's holy energy into her blade. Four chunks of her crystal blade detached from the main body near the hilt, the sword becoming narrower in the process. The four shards floated near Ashton as he waited for the proper time to make his move. Just as the last of the Flamberge copies hit the ground, Ashton sent the four crystal shards plummeting towards the Angel of Doom.

Frustrated beyond words, Doom glared upwards at her opponent. However, she was quick to notice four shining objects falling towards her. "Fool. To think he would expect me to just remain still while he attacks." She then began forming a mighty Focus Blast into her hand to intercept the blast. But just before she could launch it, a familiar voice shouted, "Not on your life!" To Doom's shock, Tia leapt above her and launched a Focus Blast of her own down at her. The attack caught Doom entirely by surprise as the potent blast of Aura impacted her directly. Despite her dark Aura absorbing some of the force of the attack, the blast was still powerful enough to send Doom crashing into the ground onto her back. Upon landing, Tia screamed, "Do it, Ashton!" 

Before she could react, the four crystal shards plunged into Doom's wrists and feet. She growled in pain as she was pinned to the ground, the crystals generating a freezing layer of crystal over her limbs to immobilize her. "This...isn't happening.... This can't be true!" Doom screamed as she realized that she was completely helpless as she could not break free of Soul Calibur's restraints. High above her, Ashton held Soul Calibur in a reverse grip in one hand and aimed carefully. "It's over, Angel of Doom." The spirit sword's crystal blade glowed brilliantly as the viscount threw her directly down towards Doom like a javelin. All eyes fell upon the shining projectile, unable to look away. Even the Angel of Doom herself was unable to blink as her end rapidly approached her. 

There was a blinding flash of bright blue light as Soul Calibur was impaled through Doom's chest, a pain-filled howl ringing through the air. A layer of crystal quickly formed over Doom's torso, encrusting her down to her abdomen. The demonic Lucario shivered, feeling her sinister power begin restrained as her Aura soon dwindled away to a mere flicker of dark purple embers. Ashton descended and landed before her, Tia approaching cautiously. She asked, "I can hardly believe it... Is she really....?" Soul Calibur replied as Ashton reached for her hilt, "Yes. I have restrained her evil power. She is entirely helpless as long as I remain embedded in her." Tia then smiled, "Well done, Sir Ashton. You really are worthy of the title of Angel." 

Exhausted from the long grueling battle, Ashton gripped Soul Calibur's hilt with both hands. He panted, "It's over, Doom... Your cycle of destruction ends now. You shall be erased and Lucy will be troubled by you no more." However, the Angel of Doom began to chuckle at his threat. Tia asked, "What makes you laugh?" Doom then asked, "Are you...heheheh...certain you want to do that?" Ashton growled, "Well, why wouldn't I?!" Doom then smirked wickedly, "If you...erase me from will...destroy Lucy as well." 

Ashton stood aghast at Doom's claim. "Explain yourself! How would your destruction harm Lucy?!" The Angel of Doom explained, "Lucy and I... We are two halves to a whole... No, that is not quite right. Me and my other half... The Angel of Hope. We are like anchors to each other. As long as the other exists, we are forever bound to this world. merely our vessel." She then smirked, "If one of the two Angels were to be erased, the other would no longer be able to remain in this world. If I were to vanish, the Angel of Hope would ascend into Heaven forever. And poor Lucy here would be reduced to a mere doll. A living body without a soul. You...know exactly what that is like. Right? Ashton of Green Mile?"

Hearing Doom's warning, Ashton remembered when he had arrived in the city of Verdant 600 years earlier to find nearly the entire population robbed of their souls by Soul Edge. He could still remember the lifeless gaze of his friend, Garyson. How he was still alive, but was lifeless like a corpse. Doom smiled sadistically as she could see what Ashton was thinking. "If you erase me, this world will never again know of the Angel of Doom. But conversely, poor little Lucy will be reduced to a soulless puppet for the rest of her life. Can you really bring yourself to do that to her? Even if you do not feel anything for her, imagine what that boy would do. Would he be able to ever forgive you for ruining the woman he was willing to die for?" Ashton gritted his teeth in frustration, remembering his vow to carry out Ash's dying wish.

The Angel of Doom smirked as she continued to taunt Ashton. "So, what are you going to do? Will you erase me, ridding this world of my curse forever while sacrificing Lucy in the process? Will you simply kill me and Lucy, allowing both of us to return in her next life? Or will you release me now, allowing her to live as I reduce this world to a burning wasteland?!" Doom cackled madly, knowing Ashton would have to make an impossible choice. Finally, the viscount jammed Soul Calibur deeper into Doom's body, prompting her to stop laughing with a yelp of pain. He then growled, "You're right. I cannot allow Lucy to die. In body or soul. But I will not allow you to ruin this world." Doom then smirked, "Then what is it you plan to do? Just leave me here?" To her surprise, the viscount grinned slyly, "No. I will simply banish you to the depths of Lucy's psyche for the rest of her life."

Both Tia and Doom were shocked by Ashton's intentions. Tia asked, "You can do that?" Ashton nodded, "No, but Soul Calibur most certainly can." Doom then snarled, "You wouldn't dare..." But Ashton scowled at her, "You will not be able to move or speak. You will not be able to torment Lucy at all. You will only be able to wait. Wait until the day Lucy dies at the end of her life. A life spent in happiness with those she loves. Without you." Realizing that she was cornered, Doom growled, "Mark my words, mortal... I will make you wish you erased me forever when you had the chance." The viscount, unfazed by the Angel of Doom's threat, smiled calmly. "Assuming that day ever comes, of course. Farewell, demon."

Soul Calibur's crystal core began to shine brightly as her holy energy was injected into Doom's body. The demonic Lucario began to grunt and twitch. But soon, her eyes opened wide as she let out a long soul-piercing scream. Blue light shone from her eyes and mouth as her shadowy Aura wings faded away. Her fur and clothing coloration steadily returned to normal. The claws on her hands and feet and the spikes on the backs of her hands returned to normal size as well while her fangs shrank. After only a moment more, Doom seemed to fall unconscious with her body now that of an ordinary Lucario female. The four shards of Soul Calibur detached from her wrists and feet after absorbing the crystal layers back into themselves. They then returned to Soul Calibur's body, fusing themselves back into their previous locations. Ashton then removed the sword from Lucy's body, the gash in her chest healing instantly. He then sighed, "It's done."

Ashton carried Lucy's unconscious body out of the valley with Tia by his side. The Skydiamond Alpha muttered, "I can hardly believe you really did it... Is the Angel of Doom truly sealed?" Ashton replied, "Her presence remains the same, but her mind and will is bound in the depths of Lucy's psyche in such a way that she cannot possibly interact with her host even should Lucy try to contact her willingly." Tia smiled calmly, "What a relief... Things should be a little calmer for a while now." They soon reached the Skydiamond Oracle and the ten Demonslayers in his/her company. One asked, "Lady Tia... Is she...?" She nodded, "I don't know how he did it, but the Angel of Doom has been sealed. Lucy should be fine now." But upon setting Lucy down, Soul Calibur's crystal core dimmed while the crystal on Ashton's wings and armor began to fade away. "So...tired... Forgive me, young master..." As the spirit sword reverted to her resting state, the viscount smiled warmly, "Rest for as long as you want, my friend. You earned it." 

While Ashton relaxed from the battle, the Oracle took the time to inspect the Angel of Doom's current condition. "Well?" Tia asked, curious of what the Oracle was seeing. "I see her... She is shackled... Her hands and feet are bound by chains of crystal. Her mouth is gagged by a muzzle also composed of such crystal. She struggles to break free, but the chains hold." The Oracle then faced Ashton and smiled, "We owe you a great debt, Sir Ashton. You have our thanks." The ten Demonslayers bowed in respect. Flattered, the viscount wheezed, "It was...a pleasure..."

Minutes later, Lucy began to stir. Tia helped her to a sitting position, "Easy now... How do you feel?" Lucy muttered, "A little woozy, but OK... Huh?" The Lucario maiden gazed at the Skydiamond Alpha in horror. "No... Go away! I don't want to go back!" When she tried to crawl away, Lucy froze at the presence of the Oracle and ten Demonslayers. "Oh no... Please... Leave me alone..." But Tia chuckled, "It's all right, Lucy. We're not here to capture you." Lucy remained silent for a moment before asking, "Wait... W...what?" The Oracle spoke, "There is no need for you to return. Unless you wish to do so, that is." But Lucy then frowned, "No... I don't want to return. I be with him..." She then pleaded, "Where is he?! Where is Ash?!" The Oracle, with some hesitation, pointed over to the Trainer's corpse which lay nearby.

Lucy slowly crawled over to Ash's body, the Skydiamond Lucario staying out of her way. "No... I was hoping it was just a dream... But..." Tears began to cascade down her face again as all eyes watched silently. "Why... Why did this have to happen..." She gently caressed Ash's face, sobbing quietly. "I loved you... You're the best thing to ever happen to me... So...why did it have to be you...?" Lucy buried her face into his bloodstained shirt and wept loudly, "Why... Just when I thought I was ready to fall in love... Why did it have to be you, of all people...?" 

Tia and her escorts bowed their heads in respect, honoring the bond shared by the two friends. Ashton too remained silent, knowing that Ash's final wish had been fulfilled despite his death. Tia quietly approached Lucy and rested a hand on her shoulder. "He died honorably... We shall give him a proper burial." But the Oracle spoke up, "No... Not just yet." Ashton asked, "Why? He is gone..." But the Oracle shook his/her head, "No... He is not gone. Not yet."

Lucy halfheartedly looked over her shoulder at the Oracle. "Wha... What do you mean...?" The Oracle explained, "At first glance, he did indeed seem to be dead. However, a deeper inspection revealed that his soul remains intact. He is neither truly alive nor truly dead. He lies on the brink in a half dead state, his sheer force of will being the only thing keeping him from going beyond." Tia smiled, "For him to be this determined to survive... He must truly love you, child." Lucy wiped her tears away, having found new hope in Ash's survival. Ashton smiled, "I'll get him back to Chiara. She can surely heal him." But the Oracle replied, "Wait, there is something else. The Angel of Doom... Remnants of her foul presence still linger in this boy's body. It is toxic to non demons. And it is slowly corroding him from the inside. There seems to be a warm life-giving power within his soul that is trying to resist and overcome this poison. But it is failing. If this last flicker of light is overwhelmed by the shadows.....he will die."

Ashton clenched his hand into a fist, "The Eternal Flame... If it is snuffed out, Ash will be gone forever..." The Oracle shook his/her head sorrowfully, "I do not have the means to extract or destroy this toxin. Forgive me." Ashton reached for Soul Calibur, but stopped, "And Soul Calibur is too weak to exorcize him as she is now..... Damn it!" He punched the ground angrily, "I can't just sit here and do nothing!" Tia sighed, "I wish there was something we could do. If it was within my power, I would gladly save him..."

However, while the others spoke to each other, Lucy clutched Ash's body in her arms. (He's not gone... He's still here... It's not too late...) She began to weep silently, (Ash... I can't bear to lose you again... No man has ever touched my heart like you did... I love you so much... There has to be something that can be done...) She then pleaded, (Please... Someone... Anyone... Please help him... Don't let him die...Please...) As she whispered to herself, a white Aura began to flicker on her upper back. Tia gasped as she noticed, "Is... Is this what I think it is?" 

Everyone turned to face Lucy as the white Aura began to solidify. White feathers began to form while wings slowly sprouted from Lucy's back. Before long, a pair of large angelic wings extended from Lucy's back. Ashton gasped, "There's.... No. It can't be the Angel of Doom." The Oracle nodded, "Very true. This is not the Angel of Doom." The viscount asked, "Then who or what is this?"

Tia muttered the answer. "The Angel of Hope..."

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