*Bang Boom Crack*
Thunder boomed out like a war drum and lightning flashed and struck like a snapped whip. As Garn and the two Sky Beasts were trapped in the dome of flesh tearing wind and cage of lightning strikes, the three continued their deadly fight without pause.
Outside the dome was a clear calm sky but inside a chaotic battle raged like no other.
Garn wielded his staff and shouted.
“Torrent of Rain!”
As Garn fired his lightning relentlessly just to his side, small drops of water began to materialize in the air. The drops started collecting any and all water in their surroundings until the drops of water grew and became fist-sized orbs. The orbs of water began to float near each other and combine. Not even a minute had passed and the water had grown to the size of a 150-foot wall.
Garn pushed his hand forward and the wall of water rushed toward the Fire Beast. The Wind Beast saw this but could do nothing to help his brother because he had to constantly avoid being hit with a lightning bolt. All he could do was hope for the best and dodge. At the same time, the Fire Beast was actually smirking.
“My element may be fire but if you think I would fear a mere wall of water, hmph how foolish.”
The Fire Beast opened its mouth and repeatedly fired boulder-sized fireballs at the incoming wall of water.
Every time one of his fireballs struck the wall of water, the flame would be snuffed out almost immediately but because his flames were so hot, a portion of the wall would instantly boil and turn to steam, which in turn caused the wall to shrink just a bit.
By the time the wall of water appeared in front of the Fire Beast, it had shrunk from 150 feet, all the way down to about 60 or so. The Fire Beast laughed as the wall of water collided with its very own wall of flame.
As the two opposing walls collided, it was obvious to see that the water was quickly being dissipated.
“Is that all you have old man, I’m disappointed. Maybe the legends of you are actually just old wives’ tales.”
Garn smirked at such talk and extended his hand. Gripping the air, he forced his magic to activate once more.
The wall of water that was falling apart at a rapid rate suddenly condensed and cooled almost instantaneously, turning into a thick wall of ice.
With the water becoming ice, it tore through the wall of flames as though they weren’t there and collided with the Fire Beast, striking its body with a terrifying impact.
The Fire Beast had no time to react and took the full brunt of the blow. With the wall of ice weighing several thousand pounds and having a momentum that could cover a distance of 100 feet in less than a second, the large Fire Beast had no choice but to fall.
As the Fire Beast hurdled uncontrollably toward the ground below, the Wind Beast had called out in a panic but still could not make a move.
The Fire Beast felt a metallic taste in its mouth and its head spun with a wave of dizziness but it had no time to worry about that. The wall of ice was bigger than its body and was falling on top of it. If the two crashed together, the potential outcome would be dangerous.
The Fire Beast filled its mouth with power and roared at the top of its lungs.
This roar was the same one from earlier that had sent shockwaves throughout the swamp and had even uprooted trees. To this wall of ice though.
A small insignificant crack emerged on its surface. Garn had predicted this earth-shattering roar would come and with his hand still gripping at the air, he pumped more and more power into the wall of ice, hardening it until it was nearly as dense as a chunk of metal. Before the Sky Beast could make its next move Garn placed his staff in his mouth and bit down to hold it in place.
The Fire Beast couldn’t comprehend what was happening but it knew the ice was not simple. With it not breaking from his roar, the Fire Beast opted to fly out from under it before it was too late, however to Garn, the Fire Beast was too late.
As the Fire Beast tried to flap its large bird-like wings, it felt a strange power hold its wings in place.
Garn’s smirk became a wide grin. With one hand filling the mass of ice with power, his other hand gripped the air with power and held the Fire Beast’s wings in place, it was going nowhere. The reason he had to place his staff between his teeth was that he needed to keep physical contact with it in order to bring forth the lightning. So with his hands occupied this was the only way to keep the Wind Beast at bay while he dealt with the Fire Beast.
A look of panic appeared within the Fire Beast’s eyes; it struggled with everything it had but an unknown power would not let it go.
*Bang Clank Bang Clank Ching*
The Fire Beast crashed hard into the ground and the wall of ice shattered atop it.
The Wind Beast’s eyes glowed as it was overcome with fury and sadness.
The dome of wind began to both speed up and shrink simultaneously. As the wind cut and rotated a mere fraction of it collided with Garn’s protective barrier.
*Shrick Shick Shik*
The sound of wind against barrier was akin to nails on a chalkboard amplified to an eleven. Garn was not worried about the noise, however, the damage was another story entirely. His barrier and the wind dome had only touched for the briefest of moments yet the wind had torn a large hole into his barrier.
Garn’s eyes went wide as he realized the implications to the ever-shrinking dome. As the dome shrank, so too did Garn’s cage of lightning. At the rate it was going, the space inside would get so small that the two would be killed by the other’s power. Garn from the wind dome and the Wind Beast from Garn’s lightning strikes.
As the space continued to shrink, Garn screamed at the Wind Beast.
“Are you crazy! if you do this it won’t be just me who dies but you yourself will not make it out of here alive.”
The Wind Beast howled in anguish.
“I don’t care, you killed my brother. Even if I have to die, you’re coming to hell with me.”
The Wind Beast could have shrunk his wind dome earlier but chose not to because Garn’s lightning strikes would collapse in on him as well, killing him. However, now that his brother was dead, the Wind Beast went mad and no longer cared for its life.
The Wind Beast continued to shrink its dome and Garn continued to protest but underneath Garn’s surface joy was hidden.
(More, just a bit more.)
A few moments later and the space had now shrunk to dangerous levels. Garn continued to pretend to plead while the Wind Beast ignored him. Garn went silent and his staff began to glow. Opening his eyes he smiled confidently.
As that thought crossed his mind and the two were on the edge of killing one another something sharp came flying over and pierced Garn’s shield.
Garn looked down at his leg and a long, sharp, needle-like object was embedded deep within his thigh.
His body then disappeared and teleported just outside of the dome. He wanted to smile because although his leg had been stabbed, his lightning was still going but his mood quickly darkened. Looking down he could see his leg was already turning purple and he could feel his magic being depleted at a rapid rate.
(No, this is the poison from the scorpion’s tail.)
Garn could feel his power draining and had no other choice but to cut off his lightning strikes just so he could maintain flight.
Garn pulled out the poisonous tail-like needle and saw that it left a hole the size of a coin behind. Throwing the tail away Garn pulled out a cure-all potion and drained its contents in seconds. The poison was fading fast but his magic was still being depleted. Pulling out a few mana potions he downed those as well. After about three of them, he could feel his power stabilizing.
Garn ripped a small section of his robe and wrapped his leg with a makeshift tourniquet, stopping the blood flow as best he could. He could heal his leg with magic but that required both time and focus, which unfortunately were the two things he didn’t have at the moment. Turning around he took off in a flash, flying away so he could buy some time.
(I have to heal up before I bleed out.)
The Wind Beast looked down and the Fire Beast slowly flapped its wings and ascended into the sky.
“Brother, you’re alive, thank the gods.”
“That was a close call.”
The Wind Beast examined his brother and noticed his tail was severely damaged.
“Brother, your tail, what happened!?”
“That ice was too dangerous. I repeatedly struck it with my tail just enough to soften the impact on me so when I crashed, most of it shattered over me. That displaced most of the weight but my tail was the cost. After that, I looked up and you were about to kill yourself, you fool, so I had no choice but to throw it away. Still, because of your momentary insanity, that Garn was fully focused and didn’t even see my attack coming.”
The Wind Beast was filled with awe.
“Brother, you’re amazing, absolutely amazing.”
The Wind Beast flew around the Fire Beast in circles for a moment before it remembered its objective.
“Ah, Garn teleported away, he could be thousands of miles by now. Brother, we failed our mission.”
The Fire Beast shook its head.
“No, my poison got to him just before he vanished. If we just scan the area…Look, he’s not even a mile away yet. Brother, you ‘ll have to go after him while I recover. When you catch up to him try and stall for as long as possible until I catch up.”
“But he’s too strong. There’s no way I can face him alone.”
“That’s not true, his powers have faded. My poison has clearly affected him and his magic has been reduced greatly. With your speed, you can avoid his attacks. Engage him in a long-distance battle. With his power down he probably won’t waste his power on a shield, but even if he does he can’t keep it up without taking care of his injury first. Just focus on keeping him in the swamp and hold him until I get to you, got it?”
With his brother’s assessment of the situation, it made total sense. The Wind Beast nodded resolutely and wasted no more power on his dome and with a swipe of its paw the dome faded and the winds returned to normal.
Wrapping its body with wind, a small tornado formed around it and the Wind Beast flew forward, giving chase.
The Fire Beast looked to be in terrible shape but it could still manage somehow. Moving at a quarter of the speed of its brother, it followed behind as best it could.
While Alice and the others raced away, Alice had gone quiet since a few minutes ago. Every few minutes or so she would look behind her and do a double-check and every time she did her expression would grow worse and worse.
Kazuki noticed this odd behavior and wondered what was up until, finally, Alice came to an abrupt stop. Kazuki and the rest halted their steps and looked back at her.
Asuna had called out to her but her words were cut short by a lone howl.
Alice got into a fighting stance and pointed her staff towards the trees.
“Everyone, it seems we are not alone.”