Indianna: [This is tricky…]
Laid in front of Agent Strauss are the satellite images of the operation site. The tropical forest that Rosetta currently hides in. The black void has proven a formidable obstacle preventing him from pinpointing Rosetta’s exact location. Even if Indianna had access to satellite images hours before Rosetta spell went off, Rosetta isn’t so ignorant to be ill-prepared. He had deployed a few tricks to throw off their pursuit.
Indianna: [The void may be circular, but the forest growth is irregular by itself. I can’t tell where the true center is.]
The scouts have reported their survey inside the void. The abnormal wall of vegetation is marked inside the void, creating an irregular shape on the map. And the true center. The core of Rosetta’s spell. Indianna guessed that the spell of this scale could only be done with the use of runes. Even if Rosetta can carry the strain of the spell by himself, using the runes would spare him from the burden and increase the efficiency of the spell significantly. Thus, the spell’s effective area facilitated by runes will inevitably take the shape of a…
Indianna: [Sphere… Circle… I can’t see it… It’s not a circle that just barely fits in the middle…]
He had eliminated that possibility by overlapping the image of the void and the image of the forest hours before. None of the dome growths’ position in the forest will put it as the true center.
Indianna: [The spell’s area is a lot smaller. Rosetta forced the growth of the forest into an irregular shape and made a fake area of the spell… Fuck.]
Indianna looks at the report file fresh from the latest scouting mission. He had anticipated Rosetta’s tricks and has sent drones equipped with sonar technology into the void to map out the terrain inside. However, before the drone could obtain any significant information, they were simultaneously taken down and destroyed. Rosetta is merciless. Exercising more caution, drones that were flown at a higher altitude was deployed but they were destroyed midair one by one. He has air superiority as well.
It is frustrating. Nothing can be done to achieve a preemptive hit at Rosetta. He has packed his defenses too carefully. Pursuing an ideal strike is impossible and the possible course of action is to confront it head on. Indianna grips the pictures in silent anger as he approach Agent Johannes Scarl.
Johannes: “Yes. Have you pinpointed Rosetta’s location?”
Johannes turns to Indianna with expectation. Indianna regretfully shakes his head.
Indianna: “No. The forest growth is irregular and I could not determine the spell area. Rosetta is too well-hidden.”
Johannes: “Alright… What do you propose we do?”
Indianna: “We have no choice but to find the spell area through force. The strike forces will be clearing the forest soon. We have to wait until they cut the forest down to size.”
Johannes: “It’s risky. Dragging a battle against Rosetta. It’s because of it that Rosetta is able to find time to escape.”
Johannes is referring to the recent incident in Thailand. Rosetta bewitched a major population of monkeys and elephants to populate an area that he hid in. This got the Thailand government to put a hardline on the agents stationed in Thailand in protection of the animals; especially their nation’s sacred animal, the elephant.
Indianna: “Ugh… I read the report. What a mess.”
The agents ignored the warnings and attacked Rosetta’s hideout killing the animals indiscriminately. This led to a mess of events as the agents were confronted on two sides. One side the animals and the other the government’s arresting forces. Rosetta even took the chance in the chaos to take down the agents and rob them of their magic. The agents are now in custody and the senior executives are currently in negotiations to repair ties with the Thailand government and appeal for the agents’ release.
Johannes: “I’ll inform the main force on new orders to focus on deforestation around the spell’s perimeter.”
Indianna: “Alright. I’ll continue on finding Rosetta.”
Johannes turns over to the nearby radio equipment. Indianna responds similarly and walks off to relay orders to his scout team.
Rosetta: "They are really active, aren't they? They are surrounding this place.”
He turns he focus from his spell to his surroundings. He senses the army from beyond the forest. The troopers are getting into formations, poised for the offensive.
Rosetta: “Filled with such malice… I'm sorry I've dragged you into this."
Rosetta pets the ground and the trees around him. The land has served him well in aiding him with his search spell. Currently, the glass ball with the lock of hair is still floating aimlessly in the air. The search spell has spanned across many countries, but to no avail, the girl was not found. Instead, an army has appeared to in response to his gaudy spell. The land will be trampled, burned down, and be scarred for years to come.
Rosetta: “I’ve already made preparations for you. Rest assured, there will be a future for this land.”
Rosetta had expected that this land will be desolated after the battle and had sown a little insurance for the land. Seeds, saplings, and spores are buried deep underground, far from the destruction that will be wrought by the incoming attack. Sealed by earth magic and filled in abundance of nature magic, the forest's livelihood will be protected for the future. After a few months from now, the earth magic will expire and the seeds, saplings and spores will sprout from the ground and flourish with the abundant supply of nature magic as nourishment. With time and luck, the forest will return to its original splendor in two years.
Rosetta: [I hope the land is barren of animals and insects… I have confidence in my wards but I am not a master of fate.]
Rosetta cannot prepare the same magical insurance for the fauna of the forest. The best he could do is to ward them from the area with the runes he made the night before. The forest creatures should at least be out of the battlefield by now.
Rosetta looks at the glass ball once more. No response. A surge of despair engulfs him.
Rosetta: [Will this attempt be yet another one in vain?]
Rosetta slumps down on the ground and lets himself sink into hopelessness and despair. This has become a routine for him. Wallowing in his own thoughts, thinking what went wrong, what he could have done, how much if this search is left. For a brief moment, he wants to feel like he fell rock bottom so he can climb back to reality once again feeling refreshed, even if it is a little bit.
Rosetta: [I’m tired… I want this to be over. Where are you, little girl?]
Suddenly, Rosetta receives alarm notifications in his head. He snaps back from his stupor and deployed his senses outwards. The forest is being attacked.
Rosetta: "Kh... They started burning the forest.”
He senses fires raging through the forest all around the spell’s perimeter. The enemy has started their offensive. Rosetta knows the intention of their actions.
Rosetta: [They are trying to find me by burning down the forest. As if I’d let that.]
Rosetta gathers the mana from his spell and distributes it over the forest. The forest becomes very active, rumbling, rustling and crackling.
Rosetta: [You’ve got your army. I have mine.]
Red flames licked the trunk of a tree, reaching out to its branches. A sea of flames spreads out across the tropical vegetation. The bark of the trees peels off. The vines and bushes shrivel up. The fresh earthy smells of the tropical forest disappear and the acrid smell of burning petrol and smoke takes over the air. The culprits of this devastation, Vietnamese troopers marching away from the heat of the flames. The captain shouts his orders to his men.
Captain: "You! Watch our surroundings! Watch the fire or it will catch up to us before we know it! The next point is across this hill 500 meters away. Don’t spill the fuel!”
The troopers hike in full vigor, carrying their equipment and containers filled with fuel. One of the troopers looks back to check on the fire that they started.
The fire had grown massive. The flames tower over the trees that it is consuming. However, there is something peculiar about the scene. The trooper next to him points it out.
Solider: “Everything is still dark. It will be hard to see the fires coming at us.”
-Crackle Crack Pop-
Aside from the flames glowing an amazing red, the surroundings are dim, indistinguishable shadows dancing in the sparse light. It seems that Rosetta’s spell is still in effect, drawing light emitted from the fires. Like a blue flame, the red flame merely glows. In spite of this, the fire roars and consumes the plants unhindered. The troopers reach the top of the hill and cast a glance at the wide view of the forests. The glow of red flames can be seen at various locations. The troopers are starting fires around the perimeter of the void, burning the natural defense surrounding it.
Fireman: “Control the fire! Watch out for those flying embers! Keep them from spreading!”
A little distance away from the fires, a trail of fire could also be seen. The firemen are active in creating a fire line to prevent the fire from spreading outwards and putting out fires that spread too far.
- bata bata bata-
As the smoke and ash colors the sky, helicopters flies over the firemen and troopers, moving closer to the void. Each of the helicopters is equipped with a manned hose turret attached to its compartment. The trooper looks through his binoculars to confirm his position and his approximate target in the void. The trooper signals the pilot and the helicopter increases its altitude as it flies around the void’s perimeter.
Nearing their intended target, the troopers aim the hose and let out a stream of thick viscous substance straight into the void. Shortly after that, the stream is ignited, bursting into red hot streams of flames. Napalm. A noxious mixture of petrol and gel which persistently sticks to any surface and burns intensely for extended periods of time. The stream of fire disappeared into the void, causing devastating fires unseen due to Rosetta’s spell. The ground forces have finished setting fire to the surroundings and are retreating into battle formations a good distance from the fires to engage any enemy that will emerge from the burning forest.
The scene is like a vision of hell. The fires have gone massive and swallowed the forest in a wall of fire. The smoke and ash released into the air blocks the dim light of the sun, making the dark sky even darker.
-kraka krooo boom-
Loud sounds drown out the noise of the fires. The ground shook and heavy rumbling can be heard inside the void. Tremors can be felt by the troopers.
Trooper: “It’s an earthquake! What is going on?!”
A huge landslide spills out from the void, knocking down the burning trees and smothering the fires under tons of soil, sand and plants. The landslide crashes outwards all around the void as if its origin is from the center. The troopers are recoil in surprise and broke their formation running.
Trooper: "The land moved by itself!"
Trooper: "It's angry! The spirit of the land is angry!"
Captain: "Fall back! Fall back! Retreat and maintain formation!"
The captain barks orders at his troopers until they fall in line. They maintain their formation retreat in unison. As they keep watch over the landslide site, they see some of the fires that were started are put out, smothered by the sand and soil.
Trooper: “Sir! New orders are in! We are to maintain our positions while the helicopters regroup for another run!”
- bata bata bata-
A helicopter swoops overhead joining the rest of the fleet in preparation of their next run. They fly into formation and direct their course around the void. Nearing their target, the streams of napalm rain down upon the forest once more.
Captain: “Okay. The helicopters will take over from here. We don’t have much use of the petrol anymore. Men, switch to your guns and incendiary munitions! We still have work to do!”
Trooper: “A tree! A tree flew here!”
While the troops are restocking on their incendiary munitions, a burning tree flies out from inside the void and crashes into the surprised troops.
Trooper: "It's the evil spirit of the forest! We have angered it!"
Captain: "Shoot it! Shoot it! Fire!"
-Dakka Dakka Dakka-
The troops open fire into the void. The storm of bullets tears through the burning forest, hitting everything in it way.
-Crack krssh dsh-
The bullets strike the trees splitting off chunks off the trunks and tears though the vegetation like paper.
-Dakka Dakka Dak Click Clack-
As the bullets loaded in their guns run out, the troops kept pulling the trigger in panic. Realizing that they spent their ammunition, the troops furiously reload their weapons as they watch over the void.
Soldier: “AAAAH!” -Dakka Dakka Dakka-
A hollow roar burst out from the void, startling the troops and causing some to fire their guns in panic. The captain shouts at them.
Captain: “Don’t waste your bullets! Notify the command center! Call for reinforcements!”
Trooper: “Yes sir!”
Alan: “Hahaha… They are terrified.”
Standing a little off the firefighter’s fire line, Alan grins at the panic the troops has shown over the radio. Armed with an assault rifle, a handgun, and grenades, he has enough on him to arm a strike team.
Alan: “Looks like Rosetta playing his cards. It’s about time I jump into the fray.”
He breaks into the run past the fire line towards the void where the battle is unfolding.
Trooper: “Something’s coming!”
-Toom Toom Toom-
The troopers tense up as heavy footsteps can be heard approaching them. Emerging from the darkness into the glow of the fires is a large creature with an appearance of a tall tree. A treant. Standing at 5 meters tall, covered in vegetation, with branches intertwined into arms and legs, it sizes up the troops who were petrified by the strange creature before them. The treants opens its maw and releases a low and hollow roar.
The air shakes from the roar and more roars reverberates throughout the burning forest and the cores of the troops. The captain, at his wit’s end, shouts his order.
-Dakka Dakka Dakka-
Everyone release a storm of bullets at the treant. Gunfire can be heard in other locations as confrontation with other treants has started. The treants seems unfazed as the gunfire shredded its vegetation coating. The treant plants its arms deep into the burning ground and grips the ground from underneath. The troops realize its actions and scramble away to escape.
The treant grunts loudly, lifting a large clump of the burning soil overhead, and flings it at the troops. The soil crashes into the troops, burying one under burning soil and ash. The troops nearby frantically try to dig their comrade out while the rest of them opened fire at the treant.
Captain: “Toss your grenades and retreat! Grab the injured! Go! Go! Go!”
The treant plunges its arms into the soil once more. Grenades fly towards the treant, landing in its vicinity. Before the treant could throw another attack, the grenades exploded.
-BOOM BOOM BOOM-
The explosions knock the treant around and the treant falls on its back in an angry roar. The troops retreat back while keeping an eye on the treant. Suddenly, someone runs past the troops in the direction of the treant.
Alan: “You’ve done well for some Vietnamese troops!”
Captain: “Agent Moralles! We can assist-“
Alan: “I don’t need your help! Go help the teams fighting the monsters! This one is mine!”
The captain is about to respond to Alan’s insane statement when one of the troops interrupted him to relay a message from the radio. After receiving the message, the captain made a bewildered expression at Alan before ordering his troops.
Captain: “New orders! We resupply back at base and join the other teams in combat! Move out!”
The troops retreat in full vigor, bringing a grin to Alan’s face. The treant is back on its feet and is chasing after the retreating troops. Alan’s radio turns on as it receives a transmission.
Johannes: “Alan. I’ve called for a retreat of all the troops in the area. You’re free to not hold back.”
Alan’s grin got wider, showing his gritted teeth. He grabs the radio to answer Johannes.
Alan: “Acknowledged, Johannes! Thank you!”
Alan tosses the radio away and runs after the treant. With its attention focused on the retreating troops, its back is fully exposed. Alan grabs a grenade, pulls the pin, and throws it as hard as he can at the treant’s back. The grenade hits the treant’s back and wedges itself in the vegetation.
The treant falls forward from the blast. Alan quickly arms three more grenades and throws them at the fallen treant. Alan arches back and fills his lung to shout.
Alan: “ROSETTA!! I’M!! RIGHT!! HERE!!”
-BOOM BOOM BOOM-
The blasts punch into the treant, sending wood and debris flying in all direction. The treant’s body is gouged in places where the grenades blew up. Alan does not miss the chance. He sprints towards the treant and climbs on its body. He pulls out a blood packet from his vest and tears off the top.
Alan: “Time to eat, boys! Spare nothing!”
He swings the blood packet around, splashing blood over the treant. When the blood packet empties, he tears it open and tosses it on the treant before stamping on it.
Alan: “Every one of you. Get on it. Hm?!”
Suddenly, Alan jumps of the treant and lunges toward the ground. Shortly after that, a tree crashes into the treant, its thick trunk breaking in two. Alan scrambles to get up on his feet. Another treant has come to join in the battle.
Alan: [One more? No, Two.]
Another treant, the real culprit who threw the tree is standing a far distance away. It seems determined to hold its ground and fling debris at Alan while the other attacks him up front. Alan is facing an impossible battle, but the look on his face is one of pure excitement and adrenaline.
Alan: “KAHAHAHAHA! I LIKE THIS! ROSETTA, YOU AIN’T BITCHING ABOUT ANYMORE!”
Alan brushes over the grenades on his belt to count them.
Alan: “COME AT ME!”
The treant lunges forward with its arms raised up high. It smashes both its arms down on Alan with a thundering crash.
Alan lands on the treant’s shoulder, slamming his feet on a slab of bark. He had lunged to the side to narrowly avoid the treant’s attack and quickly scaled the treant’s arm. Alan draws his assault rifle and begins firing at the treant’s head.
-Dakka Dakka Dakka-
The bullets tear through its head, and the treant roars angrily at the attack. It shakes violently, causing Alan to kneel down to gain balance. Then suddenly …
Alan leaps down in time to avoid a giant rock crashing into the treant’s back. The treant in the distance roars in anger at his escape. Rolling from the landing, Alan gets up to see his prey.
Alan: “Is it still there?”
Alan: “YES! Hahahahaha!”
The grenade managed to stay lodged on the treant’s back despite getting hit by the giant rock. It exploded; ripping the treant’s back nearly all the way through. Suffering massive damage, the treant drags it arms to face Alan. It cannot stand upright due to its destroyed back. Alan chuckles as he attaches a new magazine to his gun.
Alan: [The head and the back. It’s still alive. That’s nature magic done right.]
Alan pulls out another blood packet. It’s his last one. The treant swings its body sideways in a wide arc with its arm extended. The wide sweep is too much for Alan. He stands his ground and braces.
Alan is hit for the first time and is flung several meters into the air. He crashes into the ground, rolling a few more meters. He braces himself up before lunging himself forward. A burnt tree strikes the ground where he once was and gouges a hole before tumbling and rolling away. Alan plucks one more grenade from his belt. He stands up, full of anger, facing the treant with the broken back.
He bursts into a sprint towards the treant. The treant repeats its sweeping attack. Before the attack get to him, Alan throws a cooked grenade at the treat’s front.
The grenade exploded in front of the treant, staggering it. Seizing the chance, Alan slips through the attack and runs towards to treant and leaps on its back. He throws the blood packet into the broken back and shoots it with his gun.
-Dakka Dakka Dakka-
Puncturing the bag and splattering blood on the treant’s back, Alan is done fighting with it. He jumps down and sprints towards the last treant attacking him. He brushes his belt. Only two grenades left. The treant digs the ground to heave a huge clump of soil. This attack might catch him even if he tries to escape. He seizes a grenade and pulls its pin. He pushes his sprint to gain momentum and throws the grenade at the treant. The treant, astute to his actions, turns around and runs to the side with its clump of soil in hand.
The treant is safe from the explosion, as the grenade blew up near the location where the treant once was. The treant responds by throwing the huge mass of soil at Alan. The soil spreads apart in the air and falls over a large area.
Alan: [That was a stupid gamble.]
-Kroomssh- -Toom Toom Toom-
Alan: “Hr-AH! Grrr-AH!”
The soil hits him and buries him under a foot of soil. This only stops him momentarily. Alan struggles angrily as he crawls out from the soil. The treant quickly runs over to finish its adversary off.
The treant lifts its foot and stomps hard on Alan. Alan scrambled to his feet and sprinted in one direction to escape. Alan turns around to face his foe. The treant sweeps its arm at Alan. He holds out his gun as a brace and takes the attack directly. He is flung into the air one more time.
Scrambling to his feet, he sprints towards the treant shouting. He tosses the broken gun aside and grabs his final grenade. He pounced on the treant’s leg and shoves the grenade arm deep into the branches and vines of the treant's leg.
The branches and vines twist and turn around Alan's arm with intent to crush it. Amongst the crackling of the branches, Alan's arm is crushed with a crunching sound.
Alan flinches from the pain but the excitement in his twisted smile has not diminished one bit. He slams his other arm on the treants leg and pulls his body away from the treant's leg.
He pulls as hard as he can. The branches and vines twist harder, crushing his arm further with a loud muffled snap. Alan continues his pull and tugs harder.
The branches and vines quickly wraps around Alan's other hand but Alan reflexively whips his arm back to escape. He tugs at his destroyed arm once more.
Alan: "Come on…”
The treant slams Alan down on the ground with its arm. Alan's destroyed arm is ripped from his torso and Alan's body is pressed down into the ground by the treant's strength.
Alan: "TOO LATE!"
Alan had managed to pull the grenade’s pin from inside the treant’s leg. The grenade explodes, blasting through the treants leg. The treant is blown backwards from the explosion. The branches and vines are blown apart and strewn everywhere. The remains of the treants leg is splattered red with the disintegrated remains of Alan's left arm.
The treant roars loudly at the damage it has taken. The branches rattles from the loud roar as it echoes throughout the battlefield. In response to the roar, a cackling laughter erupts from Alan.
Alan: "Hehehehehe.. Hahahahaha. HAHAHAHAHA!"
Alan is sprawled on the ground, bleeding from his shoulder and his torso in places where shrapnel from the explosion has struck. Upon discovering that Alan has survived, the treant crawls slowly over to Alan. As it did that, the branches and vines from the destroyed leg starts behaving strangely. The branches and vines covered in blood twist around and wrap themselves around the treant's lower half.
Alan continues his laughter as he watches the treant's branches and vines start to entangle themselves around the treant. With its movements tightly restricted, the treant reaches Alan's location and raised its arms high overhead. Alan smiles at the incoming crushing attack.
Alan: "I got you."
The treant's arms slams down on Alan, crushing him and splattering blood everywhere.
- Mystical Forest
Hi there. I’m Q-ichi. I’m a mandrake. I write stories in clay and fire them into pottery slates.
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