The Demon barrier wavered and began to fade, the girls standing in the desert, veteran and newcomer alike, breathed sighs of relief and began to relax after a hellishly long battle. Sachiko, feeling a small bit of pride for dealing the coup de grace
, let her spear go; it evanesced into green light as she turned around to survey the damage she had done.
The two halves of the Knight had slumped, the armor clattering into a pile that looked smaller than one would have expected. The shadow that had animated it was burning away, rising from the remains like black smoke. As Sachiko turned, though, something moved in the armor.
The nearby Magical Girls had fractions of a second to react as the Knight's armor began to glow, blazing a bright crystalline blue before intensifying into white and suddenly into darkness so absolute that looking at it seemed to pull at one's very soul. This horrific darkness seemed to suck in sound as well, and so Ciel's shouted warning didn't even reach her own ears as the desert erupted into a huge plume of sand and glass and a shockwave sent the girls tumbling across the bone-white dunes.
Seconds later, as the fighters regained their bearings, sound returned; the quiet mutters of conversation in the little metro and the hum of cars in the streets filtered down into the slightly chilly alleyway Alicia and Rei had been standing in mere minutes ago. All of the girls had been deposited in various states of disarray and confusion on stoops and cobblestones; even Nazuna's brutalized corpse, blood still leaking slowly down her gore-stained dress, had made the trip back. The glow of the gem in the center of the bow around her neck was completely obscured by slowly congealing blood. Rei had healed enough to pass for uninjured by a casual examination; however, it was mostly surface work, and she knew with an unpleasant certainty that various internal squishy things would start tearing if she wasn't extremely careful.
Ciel had kept her grip on the chunk of the Knight's armor - one of its bracers - and as she sat up and opened her cupped hands, she felt her heart skip a beat at the sheer number of black cubes she had a hold of. It was enough for weeks even at her usual consumption rate - a real treasure trove, almost too good to be true!
Unfortunately, the fight had taken quite a lot out of both her and the other girls. And as she looked around, not a single other spark of light off black metal caught her eye... a fact that she felt
the other girls notice as they all regained their feet. Four pairs of eyes were drawn to Ciel's double handful...
Not too far away, a young man on his way home for the day paused, visited yet again with the feeling that he was being watched. After a moment, he continued on his way... and a white fluffy tail swished, looking almost satisfied, in the potted plant he had just stopped by.