Asley called out to Pochi from behind, but she did not respond.
In the meantime, Lylia tried attacking Lloyd, but she never could land even a single hit.
Asley walked around to Pochi’s front and crouched down to her eye level, put his hands on Pochi’s cheeks, and shouted her name.
“Pochi! Hey, Pochi! What’s wrong!?”
“M-Master… Y-you see…”
“Thank goodness! Man, I thought he’d used a brainwashing spell on you or something!”
Asley stood up, his hands squeezing Pochi’s cheeks.
“What was that all about, anyway?”
“Uh, well… How do I say…”
Hearing Pochi mumbling, Asley’s face turned to one of worry again.
“Hey, are you sure you’re all right?”
“Yes, I am… I think.”
Whatever had happened, Asley could not tell, but Pochi’s sudden change was enough for him to give her a new instruction.
“…Look, just stay here, Pochi! I’ll take care of Lloyd somehow!”
This time, she was the one whose words were not reaching Asley’s ears instead.
Pochi looked down at the floor. Her eyes were so shaky that she could not focus on any one point as she muttered so quietly that she could barely hear herself,
“This isn’t right. This can’t be right…”
…Again and again, she muttered.
“Hah! Hmph! Kah–!”
Lylia’s attacks were being dodged so effortlessly as if her sword was simply slipping through her target.
The way Lloyd moved quite vividly reminded Lylia of Giorno’s fighting style.
“Ora! Philosopher Punch!”
Asley leaped at Lloyd and threw a straight punch — which missed.
Lloyd was dodging everything. First Lylia’s attacks, and now Asley’s flurry of fists.
“What’s with his strength!? He’s supposed to be on about the same power level as Ishtar, not THIS much stronger!”
Lylia’s thought was the same as Asley’s.
[He’s talented — almost as talented as Giorno. Where does his bizarre strength come from!? And he hasn’t even lost his breath despite moving around this whole time!]
“Damn it… I didn’t want to use magic, but– Rise! Earth Control!”
Once Asley’s spell took effect, the earth ripped up through the floor like a tidal wave.
This also caused Vaas’ wheelchair to start moving.
“All right! Next up… Rise, A-rise! Enemy Trap! Gravity Stop!”
Lloyd and the soldiers fighting the Silver trio were illuminated with red light. Asley and his allies, including Vaas, lit up in blue.
“Now he’ll be much slower! Lylia!”
Before Asley was even done talking, Lloyd landed a powerful kick on Lylia’s abdomen, blowing her back to Pochi’s side.
“What the hell…!?”
Asley turned to Lloyd, and saw that he had a heat haze-like of arcane energy around him.
Staring more closely, the aura itself had somewhat of a humanoid shape.
“D-did he… defend against the effect by surrounding himself with a force field!?”
It was a wild guess, but Asley was right — Lloyd had reacted quickly to Asley’s spell, covering his body with a veil of arcane energy.
Then, once the Gravity Stop hit him, it helped to prevent him from taking on the spell’s full effect.
“Man, what’s up with him…!? He’s actually more of a threat than Ishtar!”
The strength on display here was unlike Gaspard’s simply overwhelming might. Feeling that, Asley felt an unnerving drop of sweat roll down his back.
Gritting his teeth, Asley began drawing another Spell Circle — for he remembered that he was not here tonight to defeat Lloyd.
“Rise, A-rise! Teleportation & Remote Control!”
Asley tried to direct it under War Demon Emperor Vaas’ wheelchair.
Lloyd, with his hoarse voice, invoked a countering magic spell in an attempt to interfere with Asley’s Remote Control.
[What in the– I already know it’s much easier to interrupt the Remote Control than the Teleportation spell, but how’d he figure that out so quickly!? Hell, how’s he even able to make split-second decisions so confidently like this!?]
Asley’s face turned tense as he operated his Remote Control, trying to prevent it from being stolen from him.
Asley’s Spell Circle drawing speed was one of the best of the modern era — Naturally, Lloyd’s expression started to show some change as he tried to compete with it.
“HNGGGGGG! Th-this is the ONE THING… that I won’t be beaten at! DAMMIT! DAAAHHHHHH! RISE! PARASITIC CONTROL!”
Asley completed his spell with the speed of a lightning bolt, and Lloyd’s hands promptly recoiled from the destruction of his Circle.
Finally, Asley was able to set up the Teleportation spell under Vaas, and then the spell sent the young man to the hideout of the Resistance.
The Silver trio, after successfully neutralizing the soldiers immobilized by Gravity Stop, subsequently ran up to the Teleportation Spell Circle.
“Go on ahead! I’ll make sure the Teleportation Spell Circle stays intact!”
The trio nodded and teleported away — Betty first, the Bruce and Blazer after her.
In the meantime, all Lloyd did was stand around staring at his own stinging hands.
“Lylia! Take Pochi!”
“…! All right!”
Lylia grabbed Pochi in her arms and approached the Teleportation Spell Circle.
Suddenly, Pochi struggled to break free and shouted to Asley,
“Master! Master! That man is–“
Asley did not quite hear that — and mid-sentence, Pochi was placed onto the Spell Circle by Lylia, and was promptly teleported away.
The fact that Lloyd did not do anything to stop them was certainly puzzling to Asley.
But now, the most important thing to do was get out of here.
Seeing no other decision to make, Asley had Lylia hurry and leave first.
“Asley! You’d better not be far behind the rest of us!”
Lylia shouted as the Spell Circle was sending her away — and before long, she was gone.
Asley, watching out for Lloyd’s next move, backed up little by little toward the Teleportation Spell Circle.
Despite that caution, however, Lloyd did not show any change at all.
Eventually, Asley managed to get both of his feet onto the Teleportation Circle.
“Hey, you, listen up! I definitely won’t be beaten next time! You DON’T get in the way of Grand Philosopher Asley! You just don’t!”
Just now, Asley had had a hard struggle getting his spell done, despite his confidence in his drawing speed — and perhaps it was out of his frustration at that close competition that Asley was taunting Lloyd at the last moment.
Then, as Asley was fading away, Lloyd leaped over to him in the blink of an eye, and stared closely at his face — just as Lloyd had done to Pochi a few moments earlier.
Then Lloyd whispered, also in the same way that he had done to Pochi…
For a moment, Asley felt time stop around him… for he knew only a single person who had ever called him that.
–This point in time was the era in which the Holy Emperor reigned. The years must still be within the Sacred Calendar, which would end a decade or so before my birth.
[How did the Sacred Calendar end, anyway? I handed the heir back to Holy Emperor Hudl, so–]
–If I remember correctly, the change was due to the Holy Emperor’s illness and the successor’s death by natural causes.
[What if I — and the Nation’s populace — had been given false information back in the day? Since Ishtar was alive back then, she could have tried anything, even destroy the Holy City–!?]
–My Eye told me that there are four Devils inside the castle
–Did you really just say all that with a straight face!? You’re no longer human!
–When have I ever said that I was?
[The Devils were Gaspard, Ishtar, Billy, and Cleath! That’s it! Lylia said her Mind’s Eye found four of them! Lloyd — that guy isn’t a Devil! He was the one blessed by God… he took a Drop of Eternity! And his eyes — they looked like Pochi when she was under the effect of the Familiar Brainwashing Pact…!]
–So, you’re following me so far? There’s likely one more place where the Drop of Eternity was made.
[The highly talented people I know from that era are Bright, Ferris, Lylia, and Giorno… but there must have been others, too!]
–In the Holy City of Regalia.
[I knew! I should have known — but I didn’t notice it soon enough! He was… he was too young back then!]
Asley closed his trembling eyes, then opened them to look at Lloyd again.
The trembling was not from fear, but a stroke of nostalgia.
“Leole… or should I call you Leon now?”
Asley muttered to himself before teleporting away.