Metaworld Chronicles

by

Wutosama

Chapter 262 - O Brother, where art thou?

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A note from Wutosama

Don't forget to :: Vote

 

Such a hard CH to edit, many words on the cutting room floor. 

 


Sagol Kangba, Chief of the Salai Leishangthem, Vairagi and Grandmaster of the Shadowmen of Manipur, watched his men and women as they carried out their meticulous work.

His Shadowmen numbered only a hundred, but Sagol's confidence was absolute. Since the fall of the Imperialists, it was the Shadowmen who had defended the Meitei people against the Burmans, the Hindus, the Muslims, the Chinese and the demi-humans. His troops made an inferior standing army, but they made excellent scouts, spies, assassins and saboteurs.

Each of his warrior ascetics was trained from birth, hand-picked from talented children. His troops could stalk like cats, scale walls like geckos, slither like snakes through the smallest windows and infiltrate even monstrous lairs. Thanks to the Tyrant's absence and a freshly failed sortie, the remaining Mages were to the Shadowmen as bleating goats brought to the butcher.

At dusk, the screaming ceased.

Sagol Kangba praised Deva and Asura alike as a dozen of his men, gore-strewn and breathing heavily, parted the ivory gates with the delicacy of a blushing bride on her wedding night.

One by one, his remaining disciples returned. With a little melancholy, he counted seven and sixty.

The last to arrive was Sagol's best, the son of his previous employer.

With Marong's return, the sovereignty of Sagol's homeland was now assured. His disciple had promised that he would personally see to Manipur's protection, though it wasn't in Marong that Sagol placed his faith.

That belonged to their mutual patron.

Unlike Miss Maymyint's secretive orders, Sagol Kangba had been present in Marong's meetings with their exalted client, having been spared no detail as to their lord's meticulous plan, so vast, so complex and yet so well composed that Sagol at once realised the futility of resisting the new master of Nagaland, Manipur and Kachin. It was almost ridiculous to think that he had laboured beside Me Nu for half a century without progress.

"My Lord." Marong bowed. "The Pillar awaits your pleasure."

"Marong, Sagol." Their lord's generosity was astounding. "Well done."

Sagol Kangba inclined his turbaned head, imploring his master to proceed. Even in his human form, the majesty of the dragon was palpable, an existence beyond mortal reproach.

"But before we divest the Tyrant of his power," his white-maned majesty chuckled as he inspected the men. "Let us wait, for in patience lies the root of a thousand virtues."

Gwen chugged the Potion of Invisibility, hoping to hell the illicit concoction didn't have a use-by-date, for her present condition was as Richard would say, "up shit creek without a paddle."

She wiped the milky residue from her lips. Thanks to her illicit potion, she could hover within teleportation range.

Through Ariel's Link Sight, she saw the traitorous Kitty settke her cocoon before her captors, then knelt on one knee before offering Mia with the grace of a vacuum-packed Costco brisket.

Fighting an impulse for immediate retribution, she layered her eyes with Detect Magic. The Divination staple lacked utility while out of range, but at least she could gauge her enemy's capabilities. With a quick scan, her eyes swept the plateau.

The leader was a woman, and from her palpable aura, Gwen detected a mote of Radiance. Shit, she exhaled with great care. No matter how inferior regular Radiant Mages were compared to Gunther, they made incredible disruptors. As for the others, they were Senior Mages at best, likely the woman's supporting casters.

Near the ruin was a serpent-folk, one with an outlandish mana signature. While Mages like Gwen and her enemies below displaced the Astral winds: here was a bloke whose aura formed a proverbial whirlpool. Considering the context, it didn't challenge the imagination to say that that this would be her Naga encounter.

Very well, she told herself. Her present obstacle involved five rebel Mages and a giant-ass Naga beyond her abilities.

Quickly, she ran over the potential scenarios. Firstly, Nagas were terrestrial creatures. Whatever this Naga could be, it wasn't Golos, who could eat, piss and shit while corkscrewing at Mach 1. Secondly, if she alternated between Void and Lightning Dimension Doors, even with a passenger drastically reducing efficiency, she should be able to make it at least twenty to forty kilometres before she had to switch to flight. Thirdly, an alpha-strike should—

VOOMP!

An expansive burst of liquid nitrogen ruptured across the plateau. It was a spell Kitty had previously demonstrated, Freezing Fog. Simultaneously, the serpent folk changed into its Naga form.

What? Gwen gave a start— then quickly banished any seeds of doubt before they could germinate. Mayuree had prophesied that she would save her life, and that time was now.

Ariel! She called on her invisible Familiar. On my mark, unleash hell!

Astaka, whose name signified the Eight-fold Path of perception, resolve, speech, conduct, livelihood, effort, and mindful union, was not true to his name; instead, he was proud, lustful, greedy, resentful, wanton, impulsive, wrathful and very powerful.

For a Naga, the formative years began with cannibalising one's brood, hunting down Magic Creatures, consuming rare flora and finally progressing toward hoarding precious materials. For Astaka, it was only after gaining his sentience in the second century that he inherited the wisdom his forebearers had left, and even then it took decades of instruction by Aung San and Yuzana to temper his baser impulses. Eventually, given enough time, Astaka would reach Enlightenment, slowly shedding his physical form to meld with the land, becoming a higher being.

Presently, Astaka was very upset.
Bound by earthly desire, he could only bow to the alchemical tyranny of testosterone, adrenaline and blood.

He felt a wild desire to destroy anything and everything, wanting nothing more than to crush the female figures even now half-a-kilometre away under his scaled belly.

But first, Astaka took stock.

Yuzana, his mentor and ally, was in his gullet. While under his guard, he would use the power of the Pillar to heal her.

Her kin, the men and women who came with her, were dead. As dead as the men and women of their commune who had guarded the outpost, killed by thunder and lightning.

His tongues flickered.

THAT STINK!

How could he not recognise it? Was their ambusher a daughter of the Yinglong? Was she betting that he would take her sire's invasion with a grin?

"Thran!" his heads barked, invoking powers granted by the Jade Pillar, commanding the air itself to bestow the power of flight.

Though he knew Yuzana would advise against it, he was a dragon, and his dignity, nay, his DIVINITY; could not allow such insults to go unpunished.

"SCION OF YINGLONG! I COME FOR THEE—"

"CHAINS OF ICE!"

Before Astaka could clear the ledge, a sudden tug from behind sent him careening into the cliff-face.

It took Kitty several more seconds to realise that indeed, she had been abandoned.

If so, then she was out of luck.

She had never told Gwen that her teleport was a slave to Mayuree's master. Until Mia's ring triggered, hers would remain inert. That had been their relationship in the House of M. What she and Mayuree shared wasn't the same as what Gwen shared with Mayuree. That was why she had hated the Lightning sorceress, for being Mayuree's equal, something Kitty could only mime.

Good luck with your Contingency Ring!

Kitty felt a sudden urge to cry, to curse, to laugh.

But Mia had been saved! She comforted herself. Gwen had slain all the Mages present, and even now she was kilometres away. The prophecy came true; Gwen rescued Mia. Everything had been ordained from the beginning.

Though her legs lost all feeling, Kitty touched a hand to her face.

If you're so happy that Mayuree was no longer in danger, then why are you crying? She mocked herself. Are these tears of joy?

"Thran!"

A bark from the Tyrant shook her from her self-pity.

Kitty craned her neck, bearing witness to the absurd sight of a Naga the size of a pleasure-barge lift into the air.

No! Her mind rioted. Wasn't Mayuree's safe? How could the Tyrant fly? Nagas were terrestrial creatures! Did that mean that even if she had escaped with Mayuree, her act would have been futile? If so, why had she even tried? What did her suffering mean?

A dreadful sense of oppression suffused her beaten body. For what reason was she made Mayuree's companion all these years ago? Was it for this? For delivering her friend to her death? The western Gods are cruel, or so she was told, but the eastern divinities appeared no less sadistic.

"SCION OF YINGLONG! I COME FOR THEE—"

At the Naga's battle cry, a sudden clarity suffused her feverish mind.

Perhaps there was still a way to save Mia after all.

If she were to die, her final act could not be one of futility.

"CHAINS OF ICE!"

What remained of her mana drained from her body, creating six chains tethering her opponent's tail to the granite below.

With a comical lurch, the Naga crashed into a nearby cliff face, making Kitty laugh out loud.

"You'll never catch them," she shouted at the bloated beast.

"Vermin, I had forgotten about you." The Naga recovered, then with an effortless sweep of its tail, it tore the icy chains from the rock, stone and all. She could tell its anger was magnified now. There was a rainbow sheen running up and down its flaring cobra hoods.

For some reason, Kitty recalled a story Mayuree had told her about a monk who gave himself to a starving Naga so that the creature would not eat its brood.

"You won't have her." She did her best to spit at the creature. "Mayuree is not for thee."

A moment of silence passed between them, a moment Kitty hoped would last for all of eternity.

"You have gifted me a wonderful idea," the Tyrant's voice boomed, its eyes growing cruel and cold as it opened its maw. "You shall be the witness to your allies' suffering..."

An arm-thick fang penetrated her chest, filling her body with molten lead, paralysing every nerve. Even in the darkness, she could hear it speak.

"...and believe me, they shall suffer for a very long time."

After two kilometres of Dimension Doors in the dim dusk, Gwen took a break to reorientate herself. While adjusting her human cargo, she had injected Mayuree with a Potion of Restoration, defrosting her friend and returning the Diviner to a semblance of consciousness. If she was going to be teleporting blindly through the woods in the dark, having a working Diviner was going to be a godsend.

"SCION OF YINGLONG I COME FOR THEE—"

From the mountain, the Naga's almighty battle cry suddenly cut out, as though a cat had arrested all seven of its tongues.

"Mia! Are you awake?" Gwen gave Mayuree a playful slap, wondering if the Tyrant had changed its mind.

With a shudder, Mayuree opened her mouth, then was sick over Gwen's shoulder. "Wha- G-Gwen? GWEN?! Where are we? Where's Kitty?"

"She's with her friends back on the plateau." Gwen made a quick teleport to the next clearing. "Considering what she did, I was very charitable."

"No! Maymyint glamoured her!" Mayuree's words exploded like a thunderclap beside her ear. "I saw it in Indaw, a spell activated, then Kitty started acting crazy!"

Gwen faltered, first her step, then her incantation, then she stumbled again from the nauseating feedback. Kitty, glamoured?

"A-Are you certain?" Her scalp crawled, her skin broke out with a terrific slick. If Mayuree was right, then she had just made a terrible mistake. "The proctors never detected—"

"Gwen, Shield! NOW!"

She obliged.

WHAM!
Crack!

A chunk of granite weighing at least half a ton skidded off her double-glazed barrier, driving her bodily into the soft earth before ricocheting into a Banyan tree, shattering the ancient wood.

Two seconds later, a cascade of magma immolated the treetops.

The girls looked up.

From the sky, a floating Naga expelled bolts of elemental energy, mostly earthen, but also that of malformed rock, molten metal, blue-white fire, and even the occasional deluge of acid from its serpentine heads.

OH FUCK! IT FLIES! She gulped the burning air, then Dimension Doored twice in quick succession.

BOOM!

An eruption of heat blossomed close enough for her to shield up for the second time. When the debris settled, the distinct Dragon Fear of the Naga pressed in from above. A part of her entertained the possibility of a fight, but with Mayuree on her back, a slugfest was impossible. Alternatively, she could try to activate Mayuree's Contingency Ring, but that would send her Diviner right back to Minty, likewise raising the question of whether Mayuree's ring would work at all.

"Scion!" The Naga's chorus was loud enough to give her a headache. "Come and face Astaka, Master of Nagaland!"

Gwen rolled her eyes at the Naga's feeble offer of parley. Wait- she blinked. Scion? Scion of the Yinglong? Did he mean her? Does the Naga think he's fighting another dragon?

"I am a mortal Mage! I seek no quarrel with you! I wish only to return with my friend!" She broadcasted through her Clarion Call, continuing her zig-zag teleportation. "Mia, Scry ahead and plot me a path! Is Kitty's Contingency Ring linked to Yangon, Chengdu or Shanghai?"

Mayuree's arms suddenly tightened.

"Her ring won't activate!" Mayuree's speech pieced her brain like a sliver of Kitty's ice. "It's slaved to mine! It'll only activate after mine does!"

"Y-You're shitting me!" Gwen spat. "Why was I never told? What kind of fucking ring is that?"

"That's how it has always been," came the choked reply. "Kitty's not allowed a normal one."

"FUCK!" Gwen swore, narrowing avoiding a branch. "FUCKING HOUSE OF M! GODDAMN BASTARDS!"

She could feel Mayuree tremble, but she hadn't intended to blame her friend. She knew who to blame.

"As soon as you're safe, I'll go back for Kitty!" Gwen promised, feeling Gunther's band weighing down her ring finger. Blood will have blood, she thought of that aphorism from Macbeth. Is this what they mean by you live long enough, and you'll become the villain? Maymyint had used Mayuree as bait, and she had left Kitty as bait, and now she was going to be Naga bait.

"Which way?" She refocused on the task at hand. "Mia, I don't know what's happened to Kitty, and I can't fight with you here, so I am going to send you away with Ariel."

"No!" Mayuree tightened her grip. "I won't leave you. I'll activate my Ring, maybe..."

"Too risky!" Gwen hissed. "Listen! Do you want to save Kitty or not? Can you Scry the mountain top?"

Mayuree's voice choked. "We're outside my range. I just tried Messaging her as well. The spell isn't pinging!"

"FUCK!" Gwen's heart sunk. "What does that mean? Is she..."

"I don't know! Kitty could be unconscious!"

"You dare flee?!" the Tyrant's voice pounded the valley. "VATAKA!"

Draconic Essence flooded the vicinity. Mayuree's tiny body seized up at once, seizing even her choking sobs.

"BUZZ OFF WITH THE GOBBLEDYGOOK!" Gwen hollered back, feeling a hidden heat compressing her brain as Almudj's will pushed back against the invasive command. "Dimension Door!"

"VATAKA! VATAKA!" the Tyrant's response was more rage, more anger, more disbelief. "You lie! No mere mortal can resist our will!"

"SHUT UP!" came Gwen's verbal riposte from the wending woods. "GO FUCK YOURSELF."

The next barrage grew in intensity and radius.

"Thaczil, tyrtrol ve!"

She had no idea what the creature was incanting, nor did she care. With enough Dimension Doors, she maybe could circle back.

"Oof-!"

In between her spells, something snagged her foot, coiling around her ankles and digging into the leather of her boots. Her forward momentum, compounded with that of Mayuree unbalancing her from behind, sent her face first into the forest floor.

"ARRGH!" An indescribable line of agony travelled up her leg.

"Gwen!" Mayuree headbutted her Vice Captain's iron-hard skull.

Gwen felt it before she saw it. A thorn-studded vine had snagged her left leg, and where it had coiled against her combat boots, hooked spikes now strangled her calve. Thankfully, at least for her, poisons weren't a problem.

"Void Bolt!" A quick spell was enough to sever the vine and prevent it from regenerating. When she limped on, she noted that the landscape had taken on a conscious hostility. Her first instinct was to Void Skin, but she had Mayuree strapped to her.

"I am sensing hostiles everywhere." Mayuree huffed, bleeding from a cut above her eye. "Gwen, leave me!"

"That's the plan! Dimension Door!" Gwen made a snap decision to teleport upwards, above the treeline, she could once again combine Flight with short teleports. "Ariel!"

Her Kirin reappeared just as she stabilised her flight, limping even in mid-air. A few hundred meters away, floated the Battleship Agro-Asta-Fuck, barreling toward her like a natural disaster. She wanted to conjure up another Barbanginy, possibly a twin-strike, but knew whatever Essence she had in reserve was best used to keep up her health. It didn't take a genius to know that if Almudj's blessing dried up, the slightest injury was going to bring the pain.

With a click, she unstrapped Mayuree, then against all protest, bundled her against Ariel, simultaneously slipping the vial from Richard into Mayuree's potion pouch.

"Gwen, don't!" Mayuree kicked and squirmed. "Let me fight! I'll use my items! I'll distract the Tyrant!"

"Ariel!" Gwen ignored her. Instead, she charged up her next attack. "Wait for the signal. Take Mia back to Richard!"

"EE EE!"

Behind the duo, their assailant was pleased that he had flushed the pheasants from the bush.

"Deceiver! Your demise shall be slow and agonising!" The Naga slithered toward her; its seven tongues tasting the air as though slathering her skin.

Gwen meanwhile, collated as much potential energy as she could into a spell that had served her well in many an occasion.

"Eat this, arsehole! FLASHBANG!"

BUNG!

"Hissss!" The Naga recoiled, its hypersensitive organs flaring white-hot. "Dishonourable hag!"

Following Gwen's behest, Ariel decamped eastward, invisible but for the small girl on its back.

Psssht!

Gwen meanwhile, took the advantage offered by the Naga's momentary blindness to airdrop Caliban into the undergrowth before stabbing herself with a healing injector.

Cali! She mentally commanded her beast to Consume at will. If the bloody Naga thought he could turn the vegetation against her, then she would show him the meaning of deforestation.

Below, the forest came alive with roving foliage.
Behind, Mayuree was already a speck upon a speck.

"Void Skin! Chakram! Chakram!" Gwen retooled her defence against untoward ambushes, then sent her discs against the Tyrant. With a sound of cutting silk, both of her meat-slicers scored palpable hits, drawing dark blood where semi-chromatic scales had been consumed.

Woa! She marvelled at the potency of her new spell, realising at once that the Tyrant wasn't like Golos. The wyvern was a tough customer because it had been clad in Lightning. Comparatively, this Astaka was an earthen Naga.

"Shaaa!" Caliban was making a feast of what little life animated trees provided.

"YOU!" The Naga was suddenly in an uproar. "You're the one!"

"I am flattered." Gwen worked her restored ankle before engaging yet another Dimension Door. She looked for a way around. Maybe she could teleport right through the bastard. "I don't date snakes, too clingy."

To her surprise, the Naga's riposte was to regurgitate something from one of its heads.

"Bleurgh!"

It was a woman.

What. The. Fuck. Her mind struggled with the spectacle. Was this Astaka's Simulacrum? The disturbance was akin to Caliban's culinary adventures, only in reverse.

"How dare you hurt Astaka!"

When the woman further began to speak, she had to realign her knowledge of reality. Though slime slathered, the being was alive and kicking. Not only that, she recognised her as the leader of the rebel Mages on the plateau. What did that mean? Gwen's eyes widened. She had thought the woman perished.

"Radiant..."

OH FU— her mind caught up. She blinked.

"...Blast!"

TSSSS! The spell struck before she had time to react.
Her Void Skin broiled with the sound of a searing steak, sending an eye-rolling rush of agony into her brain. The blast had resembled a shotgun of light particles, catching her from chin to chest.

"Radiant Bolt!" A circular imprint glowed red-hot on her shoulder, weaker than the first, but still painful.

"Flashbang!" Gwen retorted with a distraction. She had to buy herself time.

TSSSS!
BUNG!

FUCK! Unbridled tears gushed from her eyes. She recalled training with Gunther, thankful that the most Radiant evokers lacked her brother-in-law's ability to mimic the Death Star. In a one-on-one duel, she could tank every attack until she could overwhelm her opponent, but now she was alone and facing off a Naga. Concurrently, Ariel was half-a-kilometre away with Mayuree, and Caliban was collecting vitality from below. Moreover, she couldn't concentrate on higher spells if she got branded every few seconds.

"Yuzana! She ate Virana!" the Naga chorused. "I need to consume her to recover Virana's Essence!"

"As you wish, my lord." The woman recovered quicker than Gwen had anticipated. "Scorching Radiance!"

Gwen rapidly descended, pre-shielding with a double-serving of Void in a semi-dome, flying in a direction perpendicular to Ariel's trajectory. The problem was that she had effectively blocked her line-of-sight, leaving her to retreat blindly.

Tssss!
THUNK!

A half-dozen beams of radiant fire ate away at her shield, followed by conjured stones from the Naga.

Allowing the momentum of the boulders to accelerate her fall, she quickly erected a second shield. Below, Caliban reported that there was little vitality to be had in these moving trees and walking shrubs, an unwelcome reality furthermore complicating her dilemma.

"Dimension Door!" She disappeared and reappeared.

"Radiant Bolt!"

As expected, Yuzana gave chase, though thankfully the forest provided cover while her Void Skin diffused the threat of molesting tendrils and tripping vines.

"Radiant Bolt!"

A Banyan burst spontaneously combusted.

"Radiant Blast!"
"Void Bolt!"

Her Void consumed itself before she could reach the enemy Mage. As had been proven by Gunther, Radiance was a bad matchup for Void, or at least the Evocation variation. As before, a burst of eye-searing brillance struck her paper-thin armour, causing such a distraction that she almost ran headfirst into a tree.

WHAM!
Whoomp!

A volley of stones crashed to her left.
A fall of fire ignited to her right.

"!"

They were herding her! Gwen's Sigil tingled. She had to do something and do it quick. Could she ambush the Radiant Mage with Caliban? She could, but first, she had to disable the woman.

Taking advantage of her superior agility, she dodged from roving tree to grasping vine, even so, the wayward mote of Radiance scalded her skin and drained her vitality. Were it not for her draconic-constitution and her Void element, she would be nearing medium-rare.

"Shaaa!"

Watching Caliban's casual slaughter of animated lumber, a spell came to mind. An invocation she had never wanted to use against another human being.

"Radiant Strike!"

Tsss! Her back sizzled. Some of her armour flaked off even as an odour of skinsuit and sautéed flesh suffused her nostrils.

All compassion evaporated from her mind.

"Caliban! To me!" she called out. There was plenty of life left in her Familiar. Were she and Yuzana vis-a-vis, she could Consume the bitch, but she couldn't afford the incapacitation, not with the Naga panting like a seven-headed Cerberus over a juicy bone.

A split-second later, a hasted Caliban bodily retrieved her, deposited her on its back, then began to skitter through the forest, shredding through the twisting branches and thorns that sought to impede the duo.

"Radiant Bolt!"

A mass of tentacles from Caliban's underbelly served as a temporary barrier, leaving behind a trail of smoking sinew and writhing tissue.

The last syllable of the horrid spell lapped at Gwen's lips.

"Die!" Yuzana descended, buzzing like a Giant Hornet. She swooped closer toward where Gwen and her minion leapt from tree to tree, skittering high and low and in between before letting loose a wide-area AoE in an attempt to catch the two. "Sundering Sun!"

From a pinpoint just ahead of Gwen, the forest grew as bright as day.

"Cloud Kill!"

A black haze a full twenty-meters in diameter formed near-instantaneously into a semi-dome, smothering the air with particles of corrosive Void-matter, each alive with the insatiable appetite of the Quasi-Elemental Plane of endless hunger.

"ARRRGH!" The Radiant Mage flew face first into the darkness. "ARR—"

Yuzana's scream suddenly cut short. Her spell ceased. Ten-thousand little pin-holes appeared over the woman's face and clothes, pock-marking every inch of her body. She suddenly fell forward, choking and hacking like a hag as she rag-dolled onto the sodden, Void-smothered vegetation.

"Yuzana!" The great Naga descended, once again attempting to save its companion by swallowing her into the safety of its gullet.

"Shoe's on the other foot, fucker!" Gwen halted Caliban, for the opportunity wouldn't last. The Radiant Mage must die, else she would never get back to Kitty. "Cali!"

Caliban leapt forward, metamorphosing into its Horror Stag form.

"Void Seeker!"

A whispering disc paralleled Caliban's charge while her Familiar's stiletto legs churned the dark earth, lowering its sixteen-prong tentacle horns for entry into the Mage's delicious body.

With a corrosive hiss of disintegrating scales and skin, the Naga displaced the boundaries of her Cloud Kill just as Gwen herself made an acrobatic Jump from Caliban's back to avoid her Negative Energy cloud.

Her mind gauged the distance to clear the Tyrant in a single Dimension Door. While it busied itself with the Radiant Mage, she could teleport back to their Ice Mage. If all else were lost, she would bring back Kitty's body, in front of which she would offer Maymyint's head.

"Blueeargh!"

The Tyrant regurgitated yet again, a scene that made Gwen despair. The mucus that came from its jaws slathered the Radiant Mage, negating the permeation of her Void-matter.

Her Seeker closed-in.
She called up another attack.

"Chak—"

Kitty came sliding out from the snake's gullet, falling headlong into her Cloud Kill and directly into the path of her Seeker.

Gwen's Chakram caught in her throat. Her spell backfired, flooding her Astral Body with a paralytic surge of violent, void-tinged mana.

CANCEL! She shrieked internally even as her organs revolted from the backlash. As Caliban slid to one side, she caught sight of Mayuree's partner kissing the obsidian mass, a second before she could dispell its effect.

NO! Her limbs seized. How could this happen?!

"She's DEAD!" came such a cry of anguish that Gwen's heart skipped a beat. For a second, she had thought herself the source of that unhappy eruption of grief. "YOU! HOW DARE YOU!"

The Naga took the words right out of her mouth.

Towering over Gwen's nauseated body, Astaka reared on its impressive abdomen, all seven cobra-hoods flared, shivering with rage. There was a thrum of mana from the ground below; then its serpentine torso shuddered. With a grotesque crackle of crunching bone and peeling scales, an eighth head exploded from Astaka's shoulder-blades, completing its namesake.

While she reeled, first from her mana burn and then from the spine-numbing Dragon-Fear pouring from her assailant, the Naga swept its heads down and across with the likeness of a man swinging a set of snake-tipped cat-o-nines. As its brutal body made the one-eighty necessary to complete the motion, uprooting trees and dashing boulders the size of sedans, it caught Caliban as the Familiar circled back to shield its master, first crushing it against one head, then against another, then against the ground, clubbing her beast until its shape was barely recognisable.

"Shield!" Gwen poured every ounce of summonable effort into her barrier.

The first blow was comparable to Golos when he had ambushed her. The next shattered her double-barrier like fragile glass, and the third conformed her body to the shape of its cobra-snout.

GUNTHER! I AM SORRY! She clenched her fist, circulating Essence like mad. She had fought off the Radiant Mage, but she had forgotten Alesia's advice. Never duke a Mythic in melee range. No matter how powerful a Mage might be, a blow from a millennia-old creature the size of a building wasn't anything human magic could withstand, because why the fuck else would they build Towers?

Without the need for magic, she flew through the air.

Her world slowed. Briefly, Gwen's superior kinetic vision caught a familiar silhouette.

Her Deus Ex Machina had arrived.

"YOU IDIOT!"

The fulminating howl of frustration followed the spectacle of an enormous, bone-white Wyvern tackling the Tyrant head-on.

"You're the FOOL!" the Tyrant returned Golos' insult, which had been directed at Gwen. "Dishonorable rascals of the Yinglong! I KNEW YOU WOULD COME!"

Her world sped up, and Gwen's trajectory continued. Instead of receiving the aid she had anticipated, she struck the forest floor, bounced from the foliage, then slammed into a tree trunk, felt her ligaments tear, then crash-landed against the root of a Banyan tree. She must have blacked out for a second because her Void Skin had deactivated and at least a dozen gashes had appeared where there had been none. When she tried to move, an unbearable agony travelled up her right arm, indicating a revolt of bone and flesh.

"Ow—" She gasped for breath. Just as she wondered if her incredulous appetite for assault and battery was boon or bane, creeping vines descending from the Banyan hoisted her into the air like a leg of ham.

There was a strange clattering of teeth just beside her ear.

"ARRGH! GOLOS!" Gwen screamed as barbs began to sprout, digging into her tender flesh.

There was no doubt that Golos was as mighty as it was dim. Busy fighting the Naga, the wyvern craned its neck to fire off a jet of blue-white plasma toward where she hung.

Gunther! Gwen closed her eyes. I'll pay you back!

"SHAAA!" came the cry of a blighted angel.

Caliban caught its master before she could be sent back to Shanghai, having restored its stag-form in the intervening seconds between the Naga's sweep-attack and Golos' intervention. When the teeth-covered trees once again reached for the master-creature duo, Caliban activated its all-consuming tentacles.

"Father's whiskers, this bastard is strong!" A dozen meters away, Golos was proving to be the inferior of the two. "Help me, you idiot!"

Where the Thunder Wyvern crackled with blue-white lightning, whipping at the Tyrant with its spiked-club tail, the Naga could not give two shits. Comparatively, it possessed eight vectors of attack, a far larger body, and superior elemental resistance.

"GARR!" Golos howled, pierced by multiple fangs.

The Wyvern's associate was frantically searching for her Controller. What had been a virgin forest was now a disaster zone. Where her Cloud Kill had been, nothing living remained bar for the titanic struggle between Golos-zilla and knock-off Ghidorah.

Gwen felt her mind grow numb.

"CALAMITY! HELP ME!"

How was she going to explain this to Mayuree?

"DO SOMETHING!"

Did she kill Kitty? Or was Kitty already dead?

She looked up. Her first thought was to flee. She was rightly fucked up, and the Naga was too strong. If she left Golos to battle the Naga for the next fifteen minutes, she was sure to get away.

"GWEN!"

But the damned wyvern had come to save her, had it not?
Golos was no Kitty, but how could she leave another ally to die?

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A note from Wutosama

Chapter Ref ::  What do you think the title means Very Happy
Bonus ::  Gwen's Outfits 
Glossary and Magic System :: Glossary 

Voting for the novel :: Voting button  
   
Volume 1 Amazon (US) the book is in all markets as well. 
Volume 1 Paper Back Link (US, Japan and most of Europe) 
Google Play, iBook, Kobo, Nook and Playster Link
Please leave a review or just copy / paste your RR reviews! 

Re-written twice, but pretty happy with it.
There's two piece of good news! 

1. Sales of EBook is around 1100 so far! Enough to pay for Editor for Book 2! Base Target Reached! 
2. 6 Million views, woot! Thanks for all your support! 

Vote! Vote! Vote! 

I'll try to take time out this holiday to start on the scalp crawling process of facing 15 months old writing from CH 48 - 97

Also, Wandysama has drawn some sweet art for Cali and co, she'll post some! 

@Wandy, just reply to Oro or Cookie or whoever's first! 

 


About the author

Wutosama

Bio: I write on the phone and edit at home. Times are tough!

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