A battle had never felt that frustrating for Ray.
Ray was trading blows against Horus in a close quarter battle. Slashes flew, along with kicks and punches. In close range fight, Ray was in a disadvantage as he was using a long sword. His reach should be longer with that weapon equipped, but Horus didn't allow Ray to be in a zone where he would be comfortable. Such scenario was something Ray could usually handle, as Dunnford had trained him many situations when it comes to battles. However, Ray couldn't move as freely as he would because of the wounds from his confrontation with Tatz.
Despite connecting with his slashes, Ray was unable to cut Horus. No matter how he did it: slashes or thrusts, none of them had much effect. It was as frustrating as trying to cut meat with a wooden stick. All of it felt-- useless. As if his efforts meant nothing. That despite how he threw his attacks, none of it would work. None of it would wound Horus.
Horus on the other hand, also had frustration in his face. His punches and kicks had connected, but Ray concentrated his wind magic to protect himself from his attacks. Horus was someone who fought by using his instinct. His movement was wild and unorthodox, but it was easy to read. As long as Ray was able to read Horus' movements, he had no problem fending himself. But, it didn't mean that all Horus' attacks which landed were all reduced to null with Ray's wind magic.
Horus threw a left kick, aimed at Ray's right thigh. Ray could see it; although out of the book, Horus' movements were readable. However, since Ray wasn't able to dodge it, he needed to concentrate wind magic to protect his thigh from his deadly low kick. Ray had received a punch before-- from another Extinct Formulae Magic user-- with poor and unfocused defense; he didn't want to receive an attack of such caliber again with bad defense. Since he concentrated his wind magic on his left thigh, Ray was able to receive the kick without much damage. It slightly hurt and that was all. He didn't get out undamaged, but it was better than having a broken leg.
The problem with his current approach however, was that he would draw the battle to a long long time. If the current pace of battle were to continue, it would only end either when Ray ran out of Mana to support his wind magic, or when Horus ran out of stamina to move. That kind of scenario wouldn't be preferable. Horus would most likely have more stamina compared to Ray's Mana. And...
Elaine needed his help.
The magician wouldn't say that she needed help for herself, especially to Ray, but she clearly needed it. That beast of an opponent she faced was strong and Elaine definitely wasn't winning just now as she was thrown away by her opponent. She had lost once to Extinct Formulae Magic user and was able to escape. This time however, worst case scenario was that she would be dead now. To reduce such possibility, Ray needed to act fast. He needed to beat Horus. Fast. But how?
Again, the slash he made connected to Horus' neck, but his blade did not taste blood. How was he supposed to beat his opponent if his attacks weren't working? What could work?
No, Ray thought in the midst of his battle. He couldn't. Not unless he was absolutely sure of Elaine's safety when he used his Bloodline Magic. Dunnford would without doubt survive Ray's Bloodline Magic due to his Special Magic, but Elaine? When she was doing good, perhaps. But she wasn't doing good. She also wasn't far enough to be unaffected by his Bloodline Magic. All things considered, Ray found himself facing a dead end.
No! Ray thought. There must be some other option!
Bloodline Magic, was the safest option for him. However, looking at the current situation he was in, where he couldn't use his Bloodline Magic, he needed to think of another way to get out of that dead end. Perhaps, he should take risk. Take the beaten path which was the shortest route to his goal in mind. To gamble on his own well-being in doing something which had a low success rate.
He focused his attention at Horus, who was facing him in battle. The Extinct Formulae Magic user was formidable and Ray wasn't sure he could pull 'that' off. He could die horribly trying 'that', but Ray had to do it.
Bloodline Magic was the safest thing for Ray to do. But, what kind of King only cares for himself? A tyrant? A coward? That wasn't the kind of King Ray wanted to be. No. The kind of King he wanted to be: was someone who could pull off insane risky maneuver for his people; and succeed with it. For the sake of the people. That was the kind of King he wanted and had to become.
Ray had to risk doing 'that'.
Ray was grateful that Freya had aided him. Not only did the swordswoman saved his life, but she also saved him from killing innocents if he were to use his Bloodline Magic against Tatz. It was embarrassing as a man, to be saved by a woman; but Ray had to accept that fact. His pride would've been hurt more if he had used his Bloodline Magic and killed innocents. Yes, Ray was grateful for her interference.
'Walk slower,' Ray begged to Freya. She was kind enough to lend him her shoulder to walk back to The Hearth. His ribs were broken as a result from fighting with Tatz and he needed Freya to help him walk.
Although Freya had won her battle against Tatz, she didn't seem at all happy. She looked-- discontent. That feeling translated into her bad mood. 'Do you want me to drop you Ray?' She threatened him.
Oh right. 'Please?' He said. Ray was raised to be the next King. 'Please' wasn't a word which a King should say, that was what his father had taught him. Sometimes, Ray forgot that such a word exist. Right now, he wasn't superior to Freya. The opposite in fact: he was inferior.
Freya didn't drop him, but she quickened her pace. His ribs got more painful as she did, but that was better than being dropped on the street. Still, why was she in a bad mood? She was just fine in the morning, so the cause must be because of the battle with Tatz.
'You won,' Ray said. 'Shouldn't you be more cheerful about it?' If anything, it should be him who feel down, not Freya.
'... You're right.' Freya made a smile.
That was fake. Being raised as a royalty, Ray had dealt with many nobles before. Because of those encounters with various nobles, he was able to distinguish real and fake smiles. The smile Freya was wearing was fake. A mask. Ray wished that he was in a position where he could ask why. One day, he would be able to ask it. But for now, it was best to let the matter pass. It was not right for him to possibly anger his savior.
'Why didn't you unsheathe your sword?' Ray asked.
Silence replied to his question. Freya chose to ignore the question and she didn't even bother to hide her ignorance with an act. She just... treated it as if Ray never asked...
Ray could have remained silent, however, he didn't like the atmosphere going on between them. It was dreaded and uncomfortable and Ray believed that he could ease the situation. For his own good and as a slight initiative to repay her. So he pressed on:
'Because you didn't think you could cut the guy?' Extinct Formulae Magic grant its user durability after all. Tatz had grabbed the blade of a knife as if it was blunt and shattered it. Even Freya who was a master of the sword would have problems with that. 'And since you couldn't cut him, you decided to hit him blunt, right? As that would be more effective?'
Freya sighed and said: 'Sure Ray, sure.'
She didn't give him a definite answer. Silence then reigned again soon after that. Ray had to think of something to talk about.
'... Can you teach me about swords? Please? I can rewa--'
'I plan to do morning training tomorrow,' Freya interrupted him before he was able to finish his sentence. 'You're free to join if you want.'
'Yes, really. I'll teach you a few things.'
Ray lowered his sword. He let his left hand free and held the sword with only his right hand. He pointed the sword at the ground beside him. Ray had decided to resort to 'that'. To Freya's form when she was using a sword.
In Ray's opinion, Freya's form was a risky higher level expertise of the sword. Horus was unfazed to see Ray change his form with the sword. He continued on the attack as he had been before Ray switched form.
Freya's method of using a sword, did not rely on blocking. It relied heavily on dodging. 'A good slash can render any defense useless,' she had once said during the morning training. 'That's why it's best to always dodge attacks, treating it as if your blocks will be useless against it.'
Horus threw a left hook, aiming at Ray's head. As he had changed his form of using the sword, he had eliminated the wind magic which he had previously used to guard his body. Simply speaking: if any of Horus' hits was to land, Ray would most likely die. An extremely offensive form, that was Freya's way with the sword.
In response to the left hook Horus threw, Ray leaned back and swayed to dodge the hook. He felt somewhat bare without his wind magic to protect him in case his dodge went wrong. As he swayed, he lifted his sword and slashed upward. Finally, Ray felt a sensation which he was familiar with. He looked at the tip of his blade and saw fresh blood on it. It wasn't deep, Ray could judge that the wound was shallow as only the tip of the sword was covered with fresh blood. But, that was a start. His attack was finally effective.
Ray could see a diagonal scar across Horus face and he was able to confirm it. His attack worked. Ray had casted away his defensive wind magic. Instead, he used his Mana to coat his sword with wind magic to sharpen it. Enhancing his offense at the cost of eliminating his defense. A risk he needed to take to be able to beat Horus.
Horus was shaken by the damage he took. Not wanting to let his chance go wasted, it was Ray's turn to go on the offensive. This time, he was taking Horus to his range. By controlling the distance with his long sword, Ray was advantageous in that battle. Horus didn't yield yet though.
With his instinct, he was able to dodge the slashes Ray made. Reducing what would be critical damage to mere scratches. Horus wasn't going down without a fight.
'Give up,' Ray said. He stopped and tried to reach for his opponent. There was only one path where it would go down to if Horus didn't give up; and it would be ugly. Convincing his opponent to work with him was also the fastest way to aid Elaine. Every single second was precious. Ray stretched his left hand, which was free, and offered it to Horus.
Horus tilted his head sideways, confused. Perhaps that was the first time someone showed him mercy. Hesitant, he approached him with his hand stretched out, reaching for his. That would be the best path to go towards.
The Extinct Formulae Magic user didn't reach for his hand however; Horus went for Ray's wrist. He gripped his wrist tightly with the intent of crushing it. Ray grunted in pain, but that was something he had expected when he offered his hand. That was where the battle was going. An unpleasant direction.
Regardless on whether Horus accepted or refused his offer for peace, that was the fastest way to end the battle.
As Horus was too focused to crushing Ray's arm, Ray swung his sword and Horus didn't let go of his wrist to dodge. Without dodging, with Extinct Formulae Magic unable to defend Ray's attack, it was a critical slash for Horus. Blood rised up like a red closing curtain at the end of a show, indicating the conclusion of the battle.
With his strength leaving him behind, Horus let go of Ray's wrist.
Any form of reviews or critics, kind or unkind, is greatly appreciated! Thank you!
Things happens, updates Freya at least once a week at EST Saturday 19:03. (If I don't get the timezone wrong)
Oh hey, speaking of which:
Some stuff arises during the holiday, things I need to deal with.