“Mark, follow me, we’re going to try and draw the big one away! Fire shots at its legs or exposed skin but keep your distance!” Jason called out to Mark, immediately responding to the new danger. Jason charged in, with Mark close behind, and they took shots at the giant monster. Jason’s arrow clacked off the beak of the beast but Mark’s bolt managed to hit flesh. A dull thunk spurred the giant beast into action. It leap towards the duo, outpacing it’s smaller friend, and followed them as they peeled away back down the hill. Mark quickly glanced over his shoulder as they retreated to see if their plan had worked and was only minorly relieved to discover they had succeeded. He was glad the fast moving giant was no longer after his sister and the Carlson’s, but on the flip side, he wasn’t too keen on having a seven foot tall bear monster chasing him either.
He put those thoughts aside as he didn’t have time to think about it as they raced down the hill. The horses were at full gallop but the giant beak bear’s large legs easily kept pace. Mark was pretty sure he couldn’t reload a crossbow while galloping on his horse, so he instead grabbed a knife and prepared to throw it at the beast. He had to zig to the side quickly in order to get an angle to attack, but the slight turn let him line up a decent shot. His knife flew accurately, but to his dismay, the thing hardly noticed the foot long blade as it lodged into it’s hide.
As he zigged, his dad zagged, and managed to get another shot on the beast. However, the angle was poor and the arrow clattered off the massive beak of the creature. As they resumed their escape they turned down a street to further draw the creature away from the carriage. Mark hoped that Liz would use the time they bought effectively, because this sucked. As he pulled alongside his dad he had a sudden realization, “Dad! The smaller one went after the carriage!”
“We just have to hope your sister can deal with it. She’s a better shot with the bow than I am though, so I give her good odds. We have bigger problems to worry about.” Jason noted as the giant beak bear gained a little more ground on them. The horses couldn’t run like this forever, and they needed a plan. “If I only had my guns.” Jason growled in frustration. “I could ride and fire all day, but it’s damn hard to line up a decent shot on horseback.”
Mark frowned with his dad. He knew they were in trouble at this point as his dad rarely, if ever, complained. The adrenaline of the chase was causing Mark’s brain to race faster than his horse as he tried to reach for a solution. In a strange moment of clarity everything seemed to click together and he had a flash of insight. He couldn’t tell if the idea was brilliant or insane, but it probably didn’t matter since they didn’t have any other options available to them.
Keeping his horse going at a good clip, Mark drew another knife, but didn’t move to turn and attack. Jason looked over at his son questioningly but Mark just shouted, “I have an idea, I think I can give you an opening, but it will take a bit.”
As they continued riding Mark poured his senses into the knife in his hand. He tried to feel for the sensation he had when he had exploded his phone and also when he made the pepper spray bomb. Relatively quickly, he felt the connection form and the strange energy start to move through his body. This time, rather than just trying to shove it into the knife, Mark attempted something new. In his mind’s eye he pulled up an image from a show he had watched. He pictured a blue glow coating the blade and burning around it like a blue flame.
As the image solidified in his mind he noticed a shift in his body. It felt like something was pouring out of him, and the shock was so severe he barely managed to keep balance. Glancing at the knife, it had a faint glow to it, but he needed more. Reaching out towards the mana cores he had harvested earlier, he tried to connect to those. More energy started pouring through him, but this time it didn’t feel like he was dying. He kept on pulling at the core as hard as he could until it abruptly stopped.
Looking down at the knife again Mark smiled. The thing was positively pulsing with energy and his dad’s eyes bulged out of their sockets when he saw it. The shimmering aura on the weapon felt sharp, and Mark knew he had at least partially succeeded in his idea. “Dad! I’m gonna hit it with this blade. I think it will get a good reaction!” he shouted and turned to line up a good angle to attack.
The giant beak bear had been making steady progress towards them and Mark’s sudden shift brought it within ten feet. In its excitement at finally catching its speedy prey it opened it’s mouth to roar again. Mark, seeing the opportunity, didn’t hesitate. “Eat this!” he shouted as he threw the knife into the open mouth of the creature. The blade sailed towards its target at a speed that amazed Mark. The knife shot out almost as quickly as a bolt from his crossbow, and Mark could oddly still feel a connection to it. Trusting his instincts, he attempted to push the blade in flight to a hole he spotted on the roof of the creature’s mouth, assuming that such a spot would be more sensitive. The blade moved according to his will and diverted into the tiny opening.
The beak bear roared again, but this time it was a scream of pain. The blade had sunk to the hilt into the roof of the creature’s mouth and caused it to rear up on its hind legs. Mark imagined shoving a piece of metal up your nose from your mouth would probably suck, but couldn’t find much sympathy for the thing that was trying to eat him.
Noting the creature’s halted charge and flailing limbs his dad turned and quickly pulled his horse to a stop. Hopping down to get the best shot he could, Jason pulled back his bow and released his arrow. The shot flew true and embedded itself into the right forepaw of the beast. The creature had now effectively stopped all forward movement and shook its limb around in pain. Off balance and injured, the giant beak bear crashed to the ground as Jason and Mark mounted up and resumed their gallop once more.
Noticing it’s quarry escaping, the beak bear tried to right itself, but as it attempted to get it up, it landed on the arrow in it’s paw. This resulted in another roar of pain, and having had enough of this annoying prey, the giant beak bear turned into the yard to its left, giving up its chase of Mark and Jason.
Mark slowed his gallop as his dad did the same. Looking back, they tentatively watched for any more signs of pursuit, but let out a collective sigh of relief as they saw trees in the distance shaking, revealing the path of the giant thing as it stumbled away. Satisfied that the chase was over, Jason looked around to get his bearings.
“Well, we’re not too far afield, we can turn down the next street over and that will take us back home. Also, as long as we’re here, I’m pretty sure the elementary school is down that street. We should probably check to see how they are doing there as well.”
Mark nodded. While he had attended the school years ago, he had completely forgotten about it in his desire to rush and help George. It wouldn’t do to abandon a bunch of kids though, so he pulled up behind his dad as he started to follow behind. Jason set the pace to a slow walk and Mark followed his lead as they gave the horses a chance to recover.
“Good girl, way to outrun the giant monster beak bear thing,” Mark said appreciatively, patting the mare. The horse just snorted back, catching its breath from the hard ride. The chase wasn’t very long, but the mare probably hadn’t had that hard a ride in years.
Taking advantage of the lull, Mark attempted to reload his crossbow while on horseback. An awkward minute later he succeeded and was very glad he didn’t try to attempt that while he was galloping. Holding his now loaded weapon at the ready Mark scanned the street for signs of danger. A few blessedly uneventful blocks later, the school came into view. The parking lot and nearby streets were filled with abandoned cars and Mark figured the Mana Wave must have hit right around drop off time.
The elementary school was made in the 50’s and Mark could only imagine what the architect must have been thinking. He figured it was something along the lines of “You know what would be really inspiring to children who want to learn? A giant concrete cinder block.” The squat structure resembled a bunker more than a school, but Mark thought that probably was for the best considering the current circumstances.
Moving up towards the school Mark and Jason saw a flurry of activity near the doors. Unsure of what to expect, they both dismounted and readied their weapons. They continued their approach and hoped for the best as the doors to the school suddenly burst open.