Already itching to give these fools the fight of their lives, Lilliana watched the contest, her body tense, though her touch remained gentle as she absently stroke Bonesword’s sleeping skull. Despite Kite’s numerous injuries, she never winced or looked away. She’d seen some grisly injuries and wasn’t going to look away and shame herself or her nakama. However, watching each injury occur pained
her in a way that few might understand. As things concluded, she found that, once her son had sat up, she was already on her feet. She left her medical and tinkering bags with Bonesword, but something was odd. Her tinker bag was totally empty.
Hachirou took Kite from the field and carried him back. Lilli absently injected one of her syringes into him before striding past and down to meet the towering man. Despite her small frame there was something about her that made it hard to laugh or jeer at her for challenging him. “Set up the ball, I’m restless and I don’t like you,”
her body was tense, but not in the way that someone who hadn’t been moving would be. Her strides were almost unnaturally graceful, something that usually wasn’t terribly apparent.
She could feel B-MO pumping through her blood, through her body, strengthening her more than normal, mostly her muscles and blood vessels. Her bones were already far more durable than they ought to have been...not that the rest of her wasn’t uncannily durable to begin with.
Stepping to the center of the drawn up field, across from Pike, she met his eyes, and while she looked up at him...he couldn’t look down
on her. It would be like trying to look down on a queen. You could try, but it was pointless. “Well, how about we skip the coin toss and you start,”
she smiled prettily, but there was an icy edge to her words. “Shall I serve?”
Unseen in her shoes and beneath her flowing dress, metal encased her feet and shins.
Pike met Lilliana’s eyes by returning her own steely, determined glare. When he spoke, his tone remained even. ”I underestimated your mate because he was injured. His willpower and strength, despite his situation, surprised me. You are fully healthy, and despite your pixie stature, I will not allow myself to make the same mistake.”
The large man took the cigar, which had sat inside his mouth the entire previous match, and tossed it aside. ”Go ahead and serve, if that’s what you’d like.”
He sauntered over to take position, something in his body language had changed. He was less relaxed, more tense.
Stepping to the ball, Lilliana briefly stretched to limber up, before she tapped the ball with her toe, then each side with one foot. She then took a step back, met Pike’s eyes, then kicked the ball at him hard. The strength behind it wasn’t however anywhere comparable to his prior kicks, nor was it the full extent of her own. Nonetheless the ball flew at him, knee level.
The large man wasted no time in his response, meeting the ball with his knee directly to completely stop its forward motion, knocking it up in the air where it spun for a moment of hover. ”Pathetic. I know that you have to be capable of more!Striped Drill Kick!”
It was only the first kick of the game and Pike was already pulling out his bigger moves from the last match. Into the air he went, perpendicular to the iron cannonball. Spinning around, his leg shot out and struck the ball with his twirling tip-toes which sent the ball shooting straight back at Lilliana at tremendous force and speed, with added piercing spin. What’s more, it came at her even harder than the one he sent at Kite!
Lilli gave him nothing, no response, no reaction, and certainly no ground. The ball struck forwards, she bent her knees, lept forwards and up, the increased the metal in one arm, throwing it back to offset her balance. The sole and bottom of her foot hardened, as did her shoe as she began to fall. The ‘ball’ struck that out stretched foot and her weight, actually greater than it, began to drive it down even as it pushed her knee up. Her body took the shock, not easily, but not even half as badly as Kite’s had. When she felt the last of its momentum about to stop, she pushed back from the ball, flipped, landing on the ground and then erupted forwards in a dash. The side of her foot came in contact with the ball, pushing it to her other foot.
She caught the ball with the edge of that foot, then turned it, letting the ball of cast iron slip to the top of that same foot, before she flicked it up with strength that belied her small frame. The cannonball flew up, level with her head. Her skull hardened, reinforced beneath flesh and vein with biometal. It gained a silver glint, and then she headbutted the ball. It slammed forwards with tremendous force and she didn’t even seem dazed.
She increased her speed, catching up with the ball. It wasn’t aimed at Pike, but at the ground roughly eight feet in front of him. Before it hit the ground, she would already be near him.
Pike grit his teeth in annoyance. Not so much with Lilliana’s ability to cope well with one of his stronger kick shots, but at how utterly detached she was making herself. ”What’s the matter, girl? Aren’t ya mad at how I crushed your friend before? Ground Pounce!”
Chasing after Lilli, and the ball, was hardly Pike’s intention at the time. Instead he fell back on one of the more ludicrous, and terrifying, maneuvers in his arsenal. Once again his foot stabbed into the floor like a spear and cracks spread all around. Straining his muscles with a mighty heave, the floor tilted up a full ninety degrees, and then tilted backward! His strategy for winning the game at this point seemed to be on point with crushing the scientist completely and utterly!
Lilli ground her teeth, jaw tight and then Pike made his move. She kept running, though now with clawed feet, even as the floor became a hill and then neared a sheer cliff wall, but as it tilted closer to 90 degrees, she acted. She kicked the ball up, metallic claws spreading from her hands allowing her to latch into the wall the floor had become, catching the cannonball on a knee before swinging herself and kicking it hard with metal guarded toes. It flew up with tremendous speed, but before it got too far, Lilliana slammed her other claw into the wall and launched herself up and past it before it passed the 90 degree threshold. Moving faster than the cannonball, she still managed to spin so her feet struck--no longer clawed--and cratered the ceiling.
While Lilliana had managed to avoid getting crushed by the overturned floor, the rest of her plan did not go as intended, for Pike was quick to act while hidden behind the wall; he was not one to remain idle in this match. The large man vaulted up over the upturned wall, right past Lilliana, weaving between her strands of metal. He took possession of the ball with a hard headbutt, sending the orb flying down the court. Pike was just behind, his powerful legs giving him more speed than one would expect for such an imposing body build.
The cannonball hit the net behind Lilli, just as Pike landed safely upon the ground in a crouched position, the overturned flooring crashing with a mighty rumble mere inches behind his heels. “GOOOOOOOOOOOAL!” cried out the first of the referees.
“First score of the match goes to Pike!” declared the second, blowing his whistle.
Pike spun round to face his opponent with a cold glare. ”I know who you are,”
he started, reaching into his jacket and unrolling a wanted poster. Lilli’s wanted poster. ”Rumors say you’ve got some sort of metal devil fruit. I don’t know how accurate that is, but the results don’t lie. You’ll need to work harder’n that to catch this predator off guard. My serve.”
Dropping down from the ceiling, Lilli hit the ground with a sharp crack
, the ground buckling slightly from the weight of her form. She met his gaze and tilted her head, a brow raising as a faint smile touched her lips. “Huh, well, I never expected to have a reputation,”
she mused, finding the idea rather funny.
Shrugging, she took up a spot across from Pike again, “Then I’ll just have to take off the training wheels,”
she said, hopping in place a moment. B-MO’s biometal flooded through her body, reinforcing everything. He thought it was a devil fruit, which was silly, but he didn’t know better.
Pike licked the inside of his cheek, readying himself for a massive kick. He took stance as he gauged his opponent’s own stance, reading Lilliana’s movements. Something was off about her, he could tell. She was certainly heavier than she ought to be, telling him that she likely was stronger than she looked, and more resilient. But that also meant that most of the time, speed was sacrificed. He grinned. ”Perfectly normal kick… TEN THOUSAND PERCENT POWER!”
True to his declaration, the mighty man launched the ball with a completely normal stance, using a completely normal kick off technique, with but only one caveat. The ball had been launched at stupefying
velocity, putting even Launcher’s devil fruit speed to shame! Rather than kicking it directly at his opponent to debilitate her with a strike as he had done so for nearly every previous kick, this one was shot straight for the middle of her legs. The intent? To shoot it right past her and score a goal of his own on the kick off.
She watched as he considered her, and as he started moving, and speaking, she pushed one foot back, bracing herself against the ground. She bent her other knee as well and then the kick came her way. Her eyes widened slightly, but rather than move to catch it with her feet, Lilli lifted one foot and slammed it down on the ground. The floor cracked and tipped up before the ball could pass between her legs. Instead the ball hit the ground and due to its momentum and the angle, flew up into the air.
It wasn’t so much that there was other way for her to block or redirect the ball, just that this required the least effort. On a level Pike’s theory was right, she was
heavier than her frame implied, but she was stronger too. She’d been like this almost her entire life...her body had long since compensated for the weight or every movement would be a struggle.
This time, rather than act immediately she kept her eyes on Pike, the ball hitting the zenith of its rise into the air, before it began to fall again.
To his credit, Pike obeyed the rules of football. Though he was ready to go the second Lilliana took control of the ball, he did not move from his kickoff position as it hung in the air. After all, it only went up from environmental factors, meaning technically his opponent hadn’t controlled it yet. To rush in and intercept at this point would still be an illegal maneuver…
Raising an eyebrow, Lilli let the ball hit the ground in front of her, rather than leave the ground to retrieve it. Then she ran forwards with the ball, dribbling it between her feet as she did so, advancing swiftly towards Pike, her every sense focused. What was she planning?
Thus signalled Pike to begin his interception. Rather than going straight in for the assault, the devious and powerful man took advantage of the state the floor had been put in. Cracks and destruction littered the flooring everywhere. With one solid kick, not only did Pike dash straight for Lilliana, but he knocked up large amounts of stone debris, flying straight for the young woman just ahead of him.
He acted, and she took it all in and responded in kind, bleeding metal from her pores, to reinforce her skin as she had the rest of her body. The debris began to strike her and she half lidded her eyes, retaining some of her sight, while protecting them all at once. She kept her other senses sharp.
The debris pelted Lilliana hard, but her endurance was greater. The smaller bits could be ignored entirely, though the larger ones would still leave some bruises despite her preparations. Two particularly sharp ones cut into her skin, causing some minor bleeding. Through it all, Pike took advantage of the cover provided from his attack like a smokescreen, sliding along the floor right by his opponent in an attempt to swipe the ball right out from under her.
Gritting her teeth at the pain, she almost missed the sound of debris and hard leather against the ruined floor. Eyes still closed, she grinned, and kicked the ball up and to the side, away from Pike. She followed it, ready to receive her own short pass before continuing forwards.
Managing to evade him, she caught the ball with her foot, kicked it forwards as she ran and then brought her leg back for a powerful kick, nailing the cannonball hard enough to send it hurtling straight at the undefended goal.
And into the goal it went! Pike, too caught up in his slide, was unable to muster a defense. Soon as the net arched back catching the iron ball, a loud whistle rang out the hall with another long declaration of “Gooooooooooooal!” The score was now tied at 1-1, and Pike gave his opponent a nasty glare. Silently, the first mate took his position, ready for Lilliana’s kickoff.
She cast him a grin before taking up her place. Once more she tapped the cannonball with her foot, once on each side, and then the side facing her. Taking a deep breath she met his eyes and then glanced down at the ball. Preparing herself she stepped away from it and then as she kicked, let a small amount of biometal attach itself to the cannonball. As it flew at Pike, faster than the first serve, an exceptionally thin strand of metal extended between it and her foot.
She waited and watched closely, widening her stance.
Soon as the iron ball flew away from Lilliana, Pike rushed toward it, powered by his mighty legs. In less than a second he had intercepted the ball’s course, and began dribbling down the field, keeping his eyes on his opponent as he did so. The astute man knew she was up to something, but not what.
As his foot touched the ball, she moved, heading in his direction as he began dribbling the ball across the ‘field’. She focused intently on his every move, feeding a small amount of biometal through the thread, making it denser, but still virtually invisible.
As the two closed into one another, Pike took the opportunity to get an advantage. Hooking the ball with his foot, he tossed it up and over the approaching Lilli, then made a mad dash to get past her himself. It was clear that in a contest of speed, Pike was the obvious winner, but she didn’t intend to win with speed, did she?
Lilliana certainly didn’t. With the ball flying over her head and Pike past her, she smirked and moved her foot, making the ‘thread’ go rigid as she accelerated, running away from Pike and towards the goal. The ball, before it even landed behind her, would change course, being pulled through the air as she reeled in the string.
She’d then spin on one foot and initiate a kick like that, catching the ball with her foot and ankle before spinning further and kicking it right at the undefended goal.
Ah, so that was the wench’s game plan. Without missing a beat, Pike spun round to keep his eyes on the ball as it changed direction. He kicked another bit of rubble, not at his opponent this time, but at the cannonball as she flung it toward his goal. The rock struck metal, knocking the ball off course. Rather than striking the center of the goal as planned, it bounced harmlessly off of the guard rail and landed on the floor. Though it failed to score Lilli a point, the ball was still very much in play… But Pike was now already halfway to retrieving it.
Eyes widening somewhat, Lilli grounded herself, wincing slightly as she missed. ’Frustrating,’
she thought. None of the kids back home had ever played like this, it was strange...and less fun. Granted, this was far more engaging, if only because Pike was actually a challenge.
Despite herself, she smiled a bit and slammed her metal toe into the ground. It pierced like a blade, and then biometal spread from her foot into the ground. Swiftly she pulled her foot up and flung what appeared to be one huge boulder of stone directly at Pike. Briefly it would obscure his sight of her.
Regaining her balance she kicked some rubble into the air and infused it with biometal, before kicking it even harder at the boulder. Right before it got within striking distance of Pike the huge rock would shatter into a field of debris.
She’d dash forth, lighter than she had been before, a symptom of having gotten rid of some of her biometal. She was faster now.
Pike’s ears twitched, detecting the danger coming from behind. Rather than dodging to the side or facing it head on, the larger man opted for an approach that seemed unusual for his demeanor: he jumped straight up, arms and legs extended outward. Grin spreading across his face turned to bizarre confusion as more rubble followed just beneath him, which turned to scowl as Lilliana moved past him in her new speedier form. ”No. I’m still faster,”
he growled as he landed, pouncing toward her on all fours like a tiger on the attack.
Hearing him approach by the nearness of his voice and the sound of his landing, Lilli was just a few feet from the ball when she kicked the ground, scooping stone from the floor and sending it hard at an angle. The stone struck the cannonball with incredible velocity and some of that transferred, hitting the cannonball against the metal guard hard enough for it to bounce back in her direction. She spun on her heel, using a foot like shovel to the ground to scrap more debris from the floor and fling it directly into Pike’s face as she reinforced her back with a layer of metal.
The cannonball hit her, its momentum carrying it up her back and over her shoulder. She hit it down with her reinforced collarbone and then kicked it up even as she ran, jumped and then pushed off of a piece of debris from the shattered boulder she’d made only moments before.
The former captain took Lilliana’s attack in stride, facing it head on and with great fury. The man slammed his head into the debris coming toward his face, headbutting the majority of it aside like a giant swatting a fly. All but one piece, that is, which he had caught in his mouth. That piece was spat out to the side, showing his anger at the situation: though it had been solid rock, the man had left teeth marks. Such was his ire at being behind in the scoring.
While he chewed on stone, Lilliana lunged flipped midair and kicked the cannonball as hard as she could in a downwards strike. As planned (lol), it flew diagonally downwards and into the goal like a falling star.
Righting herself, she landed behind Pike, her back to him.
She brushed off a shoulder then glanced back at the man. “You should really watch your temper,”
she commented, “...it’s unseemly.”
She turned her back on him and walked back to center field.
The iris of his eyes suddenly widened vertically, pointed off like a cat’s, expressing a form of rage he could never have done before. Actual steam blew out from his nose, punctuated by the whistle blowing of the referees. “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! The score is now 2-1, advantage: Lilliana! The Red Rum now serves!”
Pike shook his head, pulling out a cigar, and lighting it. He took two deep drags, then breathed out the smoke to make the shape of a rabbit, followed by the shape of a pouncing tiger. The tiger smoke enveloped the rabbit, and both dissipated into the air. ”You forgot this,”
he commented, his voice now even. Pike kicked up the cannonball, then kicked it to Lilli in mid-air.
“Could Pike actually lose?” murmured a Buccaneer.
“No way! He’s unstoppable!” another answered.
“Yeah, but we thought that Dr. Maul’s alter ego, Mr. Sledge, was unstoppable, and he lost.”
“He didn’t lose, he tied, and besides that the capta-Er, I mean, the first mate is still on a whole other level! He’s his own league! The captain wouldn’t last a second against him in football!”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. He’s got to be making this last longer for dramatic effect!”
Pike glared up at the peanut gallery, his stare alone silencing the hushed voices. Once the cigar had been completely smoked away, he took his place in center field, ready to intercept the kickoff.
Rather than catch the strike with another kick, or get in its way, she let the cannonball hit the ground, where she then stopped it with a foot. “Why thank you,” she said, flashing him a smile. She dipped into a slight curtsy, perhaps mockingly, or perhaps to be polite. After all, he technically outranked her--though he was no a different crew.
Taking to her kick off ritual, she tapped the cannonball once on each side and then on the side facing her. Then she regarded him, tilted her head, took a step back and then kicked the ball so it would angle far to his left side. The side with his injured knee. He’d most likely have to run to get at the ball.
Like a rocket, Pike was off heading for the ball just as he had done so many times before. In two seconds he intercepted it, then began dribbling down the way, heading straight for Lilliana. It seemed that he had intended to bowl right over her on his way to the goal, but something was different this time. As soon as he took off, did he wince?
Naturally, Lilliana had no intention to be run down. She dug her heels in and pressed biometal through the heels of her feet and into the ground, expanding them outwards like roots. Two seconds and then she wrenched upwards sending huge amounts of debris, large and small, into the air. The biometal retracted and she lunged forwards at Pike, ready to intercept.
Pike grinned. ”Perfect.”
With his stronger leg, Pike kicked the ball up into the cloud of debris. It struck the first piece, then changed course to another piece, and another and another, each one sending the heavy iron ball on a separate trajectory. Meanwhile, Pike plowed through the debris with his body, tanking rock shrapnel small and large with his arms, until he was right up on Lilliana, the two colliding in the air, lunge met by lunge.
“GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!” cried out a referee, the second blowing his whistle. While Pike had deliberately taken them both down to the ground, the ball was sent on a complicated ricochet, straight into the goal. “The score is now tied, 2-2! Pike kicks off, possession goes to Lilliana!”
The large man glowered down at the smaller woman as he stood up tall. ”You’ve been better than I anticipated, but it’s time to end this. I have many more of your crew to crush. Filthy pirates.”
With that, he took up position, ready to kick the ball out.
Taking her place across from him, Lilliana brushed herself off and locked her gaze with his, determined to prove him wrong. She took one deep breath, in and out, and then nodded her head. She was ready to end this.
Pike stood silent for a moment, watching, waiting, observing. He tested the ball a few more times kicking it with the side of his foot like a hacky sack. The man had so clearly been accustomed to playing in this manner, it was a wonder that he hadn’t broken his body yet. Lord knows Lilliana would be hurting after this whole ordeal.”I wanted to save this for my final match, preferably against your captain, but you’ve gone and pissed me off more than enough. I’ll frighten away the rest of your crew by the sheer radiance of my ultimate serve!”
As he spoke, it was not only Pike’s words that bolstered and rose up, but his muscles as well. The already mighty man grew at least another two feet in height, and another three in width. Veins inflated, looking ready to burst out violently like little snake bombs. ”Take this! Tiger Strike Ultimate! Dragooooon’s…. DEEEEEEATH!”
As the cannonball fell downward, he struck it hard with his right knee, sending it high up in the air. He took his own jump up, spinning in the air like a drill. Faster and faster and faster he spun, gaining more and more torque until the man could only be described as a colorful mid air blur. Then he thrust out both arms, palms exposed, fingers widened like claws. This created air currents like pathways, guiding the cannonball in time with his movements, sending it round and round and round until, finally… He kicked it.
Pike fell to the ground, hard, buckling under his bad knee. But that didn’t matter right now. What mattered was the cannonball flying straight for Lilliana. It shot faster than Launcher had ever sent it flying with her devil fruit. The air crackled
around it as the friction set the very oxygen around it on fire! This was do or die. Dodge, and it would likely destroy most of the arena. Stand her ground, and she’d have to deal with enough force to kill hundreds of men in one strike. Less than a hundredth of a second to react.
As he began his serve, Lilliana sensed a change in him. Extracting the only Syringe(r) she’d left on her person, Lilli stabbed her arm, wincing. Taking deep breaths, B-M.O flowed through her body faster and faster--her heart’s BPM skyrocketing. She shifted into a stance, as if about to lunge to the side. Then he struck.
She held her breath, ceasing what had been what sounded like hyperventilation. She lunged to the side, or appeared to, turning the momentum and her own weight--focused perfectly to fling her sideways--into a spinkick on one foot. Mid-kick she dropped down, to her knee. The weight of the biometal flung itself into the tip of her foot, accelerating the spin in less than 1/4th a second. On the second spin the cannonball serve met her shin, just as the biometal had distributed itself properly.
Her jaw clenched, teeth grinding as her entire body strained. She felt highly reinforced muscles beginning to tear, she felt the dense biometal infused bones straining. Then the pressure began to reverse, everything almost in slow motion as she turned the momentum of the serve into a powerful shot to Pike’s goal. As the cannonball flew Lilliana collapsed to her hands and knees. Her entire right leg was shifting between numb and useless...and paralyzed by waves of pain. She felt light headed, but still she hung onto consciousness, nails clawing into the floor and leaving marks.
The ball tore through the air, a shockwave pulsing out from it. The air burned around it as it hurtled at Pike. It was moving so fast that if you blinked you’d miss it. As it passed over his shoulder, half an inch from its neck, it’d leave behind an intense heat and a destructive wake of force. In the next moment it struck Pike’s goal, flying into the net and then through it, into the wall behind.
The wall, like the net, couldn’t stop it either, and blasted outwards as the cannon drilled a hole through it to fly out over the bay.
Not having the strength to move much, Lilli barely managed to hold one fist above her head in a gesture of victory. She met Pike eyes, fire, determination and pain in her own, and managed a pained smile. “That was for Kite,”
she then spat blood onto the ground. Her breathing had slowed, but each inhale was sharp and strained.
Blood trickled down from Pike’s ear, the sudden change in air pressure, combined with the heat, having caused his ear to pop in a rather violent way. Still, despite the pain, he said nothing. Not so much as a grunt of discomfort. The pirates in the stands looked on in total awe, completely taken aback by the events that had unfolded before them. Even the referees had forgotten to blow their whistles and declare the victory point. ”So that’s tha power’o the ‘Iron Rose’ Lilli,”
Bill muttered under his breath. A few moments past and he looked around at his crew still gawking. ”Well, what’re ya waitin’ fer? Call it, refs!”
“Oh, uh… Yeah, yeah. Uh… Final goal to Lilliana, and match!” The smaller of the referees had managed to follow captain’s orders, but the larger of the duo still couldn’t quite grasp what he had seen.”... Like hell it’s over!”
Pike half-growled half-roared. He stood up, ready to fight, a menacing aura bleeding out from his eyes. He had lost, but he was still in plenty good condition to go toe to toe if the situation fell that way.”Ya declared a 3 goal game an’ lost! Git back t’yer seat like a man, an’ admit defeat wit’honor!”
Bullet Bill rose to challenge Pike’s own disobedience, but the first mate did not back down.”You are your fuckin’ sports rules. Taking over this base, taking MY men, turning MY marines into pirate trash! You aren’t even a person, you’re a weapon! You’re a god damn tool!”
He pointed menacingly up at the stands, ignoring the blood that continued to trickle out his ear. The pirates gasped in horror, as though these words were sheer blasphemy. All eyes locked onto Bill, who remained calm, arms crossed. But it wasn’t a usual calm. It was an unnerving calm, the sort of calm you feel moments before something terrible was about to happen.”I’m taking back my post as captain of this marine base. Anybody that refuses to follow isn’t worthy of livin’ life!”
With a mighty leap, Pike pounced in an arc, straight toward Bill, flying high through the air. Runch and the rest of his still able crew scrambled into a fighting position to intercept, but it was proven to be unnecessary.”Spinning Claw Kick!”
Pike extended a single leg and began spinning at tremendous speeds. Yet Bill only smiled.”Lance Stance.”
Before everyone’s eyes the captain of the Buccaneers transformed in a most unusual and bizarre manner. His skin turned to a dark pewter in an instant, his legs became wheels, and his large rotund body elongated into a tube, while all human features utterly vanished. He had become a cannon. A cannon with human eyes, and his distinctive mustache positioned just beneath the end of his cannon-mouth.
His positioning was such that Pike could do nothing but fall straight into the open waiting maw of the cannon leg first. But of course such a large man could not fit inside completely: his leg plugged into the hole, while his groin slammed hard into the edge. Pike had not complained of injury thus far, and with this moment he was no longer able to. His mouth hung open, his eyes rolled into the back of his head, his entire body limp and paralyzed in the pain that dominated his family jewels.”Thirty-two Pound Assault!” BOOM!
The cannon that was Bullet Bill fired off, blasting Pike straight into the side wall, then right through it, and finally into one of the towers along the outer walls of the fortress. If he flew back any further, nobody would have been able to see it thanks to the fortress blocking the view.