“This is a battle scythe. Its origin is the original scythe that farmers used to harvest grain and cut grass.”
I brought out another cube.
“Charge me up!”
Korren cleared her throat. “In your magicless realm, it is only useful as a farm implement. Here its usefulness as a weapon comes from its symbolism. The symbol of the harvest. And what is a war but the reaping of lives?”
A chill ran down my spine.
I had the urge to move toward her and cut her down but decided that if I did so without knowing what this weapon could do, I’d likely lose.
“You’ve done well so far, but this is where you die.” She shrugged. “Unless you can outrun this.” I heard the smirk in her voice.
She hefted the scythe and swung it in a complete circle. At first, its killing light reached 10 blocks straight up and 3 right. Then it began to move in a circle around her. As it moved, it became faster.
I watched for a moment; open-mouthed as it decimated any trap and TNT crate within my mind map’s view.
I rushed down. The swooping energy scythe neared me. The air crackled with energy.
As the scythe reached the bottom of its arc, I managed to fly a single block outside of its reach. A torrent of wind battered me.
“Good job! But it won’t last,” she said.
In my mind map, I noticed that her weapon was still charged and nearly ran into a vine trap.
Korren laughed. “Face it. You can’t win.”
I’d have to find a way. Sure I had 2 more chances if I did end up back at the main cave, but that was the thing about chances, just because I could get here once, didn’t mean I could easily repeat what I’d done, especially since Korren now knew the tricks I would use against her. I had to treat this as my final opportunity.
As I bolted farther down into the boss area, I pulled out another three recharge cubes and named them.
Korren chased after me.
As she closed in on the spot near a TNT box, I paused and aimed. Just before she reached it I fired.
The box exploded, and a scythe of light appeared in front of Korren, protecting her from the blast.
Great. It could shield too.
When the light disappeared, I could see that her weapon still had power.
Oooo. Here I go!
An arrow appeared in my bow, and I pulled back. When Korren came closer, I released. She saw the missile coming and sidestepped it.
I took in a deep breath and darted down passing traps and moving around badly placed boulders.
“Don’t expect to win against me with that silly bow of yours.”
This was ridiculous. I couldn’t wait until I saw a chance, I had to make one for myself.
“Don’t expect to win against me with that slow scythe!” I called back.
My durability reached a dangerously low number, so I zoomed to the side to collect another energy orb and recharged my bow again in the process.
Korren snorted. “We’ll see about slow. I was going easy on you before.”
“Hah! I could beat you blindfolded.”
Instead of spinning, she slashed down in my direction, but I was already moving to the side and down. The energy blade appeared a block from me. Sweat ran down my brow at its closeness.
“Haa,” I said shakily and then continued stronger. “Missed entirely.”
“Then tell me how you like these!”
Like a master swordsman, she repeatedly swung her weapon causing energy scythe after energy scythe to form. With each one, I barely escaped with my life. Fortunately, I remembered my speed training with Phenic and flew down, faster and faster. Since she had to stop every time she attacked she couldn’t keep up.
There had to be something I could do even if she didn’t run out of charges. Her saying I couldn’t defeat her with my bow was obviously smack-talk, but it could also be a hint.
She was focusing on short fast swings that created a single scythe that didn’t destroy the field and, judging by how she always moved directly above me, on my position. Perhaps...
I saw my target, the thing that had been the bane of my existence on the third floor. I used her too intense focus on me to guide her toward it.
Vines wrapped around her torso and legs.
Was this going to work or did she have some way to get out of it?
I watched her struggle in my mind map. Her scythe glowed as if she were about to use it against the trap but, as if it had sensed danger, one of the vines tore the weapon from her. She appeared 4 away from the man-eating vines, with her arms crossed in disappointment.
My environment changed, and we stood next to each other in the long hallway between floors.
“Was that merely incredible fortune on your part?”
“A wild guess that happened to pan out. Let’s just say me and those vines are old enemies.”
She smiled then looked at me with seriousness. “You can still give up, you know. Right here, right now.”
“I have to save my brother. I have to save those kids who got into this game without understanding the consequences.”
“Even if it means risking your life?”
I opened my mouth to answer, but she held up a hand.
“I know you’re young and youth tends to make your kind idiotic and brash so before you answer me, really think about it. When you go down there, you might die. No coming back, no entering your afterlife. What is down there will rip out your soul and devour it. Do you understand?”
I didn’t answer right away. Instead, I did as she asked and thought about what could happen to me. Were those strangers worth the risk? Was it even my responsibility?
I looked down at my perfect uninjured hand at where a freckle rested on the top of my right knuckle. I found my answer.
“I may not be a hero or a soldier or some public servant. It may not be my job or responsibility to rescue those kids. It may not even be my responsibility to rescue Matt. But I’ve come this far. I’ve learned magic! And I’ve even had my body changed to the point where I’m not sure I’m still human.
“Right now, as far as I know, I’m the best chance these kids have to go home. How can I sit here and say that my life is worth more than theirs and just give up because I might die?”
Korren swallowed and wrapped her arms around me in a tight hug. It was hard to breathe. “You’re such a good child. Don’t you dare die down there.”
I hugged her back.
“I’ll be careful.”
She let me go and patted my head. “What do you choose? Weapon upgrade? Pickaxe upgrade? Or information?”
“You sure, dear? You could know everything you need to know already. And you might find a special weapon.”
She sighed. “Well, I did try. This isn’t going to be like the others.”
“What? No book?”
One of the three chests behind Korren slid across the floor to rest in front of me.
Carefully I knelt down and opened it. That was when the vision started. No, it was more than a vision. It was an experience with emotions, thoughts, sights, and smells. It was of my enemy.