When Water mana affinity levelled up to Advanced water mana affinity, I'd learned many things. I'd poured a lot of resources and evolutionary energy into beefing up my spellcasting ability to the point I was happy with it, but the spells hadn't been quite as impactful as I'd hoped. The mana affinity skills were my first window into increasing the power of my magic. The human mages I'd seen had almost all been specialised in a particular type of mana, especially the younger ones. What had been the reason for this?
Advanced water mana affinity unveiled a few clues. Along with new constructions, new spell shapes specifically for water magic, I'd also learned how to adjust the water mana transformation construct to produce a slightly different effect. A more potent one.
As Tiny and Crinis do battle with the monster, I race to complete the new construct, all of my minds dedicated to the task. I'd hoped to have more time to test this before being pushed to using it in such a desperate situation, I'd thought I'd had more time!
Just another example of me taking things too lightly. I'd assumed that I'd become so powerful, strong enough that we'd be able to blow through most resistance with ease. I constantly have to keep reminding myself that though my evolutions might have given me a massive leg up in terms of my raw stats, I started from perhaps the lowest base in the Dungeon.
I need to keep pushing myself further ahead.
With a shattering roar the Croc finally connects a solid blow into Tiny's ribs, sending the ape rolling through the dirt and into a tree where he lies clutching at his side.
Come on brains!
The final pieces of the construct snap into place as the Croc painfully struggles to its feet. All of the Gravity bolts I've piled into that one leg are adding up. Along with the beating it's taken from Tiny, the creature no longer has the strength to move freely or easily. That has to be enough.
The beast flexes its claws and prepares to slash Crinis who is still clinging with everything she has to the Croc's other arms, restraining them with all of her might.
I won't let you!
All of my minds work in concert to power one spell at a time, churning out this new form of mana, Ice!
Two feet long and needle sharp, the ice spear rockets through the air as if shot from a cannon and slams into the Croc on its chest.
Ice shards and scales fly as the spear shatters, but only after the tip is driven into the beasts flesh. The monster turns to me again and prepares to open its mouths to douse me in fire.
I don't have three brains for nothing, you sap!
Another projectile of concentrates ice zips through the air and smashes against the monster, just under its neck. Having avoided the thicker chest scales a bloody hole is torn in the monster as the spear penetrates deep.
The flesh immediately begins to bubble and regenerate but not quick enough.
As the monster recovers from the blow I try to give myself a little extra time by dashing to my right. It works for a moment as the Croc raises its one free hand to defend against my next spear and momentarily loses sight of me.
It only buys me a few seconds, enough for me to start compressing the ice mana until it turns from a glittering pale colour into a much deeper, richer blue.
Catching sight of me again the Croc instantly opens its upper jaws and unleashes a narrow torrent of blue flame, the air instantly heats to searing hot as the flame ignites but I was fore warned by my antennae and I'm already moving, dashing right out of there.
In fact, wasn't that dash a little quicker than usual?
"Still wide open! Hahahahaha!" Vibrant cries as she dashes wildly back into the fray.
Her carapace is still showing signs of a horrific crack that is in the process of healing, but she doesn't seem to care as she positions herself behind the Croc once more.
"Not again!" I cry, aghast.
"Ahaha! Why not?!" she laughs and charges behind the Croc once more, savaging its wounded leg.
The Croc knows what to do this time and quickly swings its tails but Vibrant has wised up and smartly dashes low, sliding underneath the strike and running clear.
She bought me just enough time.
Forceful Ice Spear!
The spear this time is four feet long and dense, the ice is a deep, sparkling blue, as if formed from the waters of the deepest depths of the ocean. As I activate the spell it crackles into existence over my head before blasting through the air towards the Croc.
The spear strikes home against the Crocs gut but instead of shattering it simply drives right in, burying half its length into the beast.
"ARRRRRRRRR!" the Croc bellows in pain and swings at the air wildly.
My brains are fried and my mana is low. I task both sub brains with holding the ice construct in place and give my mana a chance to recharge. I've been sucking mana out of the ground all this time through my legs but my consumption has been high. I'll need to take the fight to the Croc the old fashioned way.
Exhausted, I can only open my mandibles wide and charge in.
"Yay!" Vibrant shouts and charges back in again.
The Croc is reeling from the Ice Spear buried in its gut. I bet that took a decent chunk of HP! Please be close to dead, I don't think I can fight much more!
Pumping out as much stamina as I can I begin to mindlessly bite at the Croc, mechanically chomping as much as I can. At some point I fail to dodge a wild swipe of the claws and the Croc tears a foot long gash in my side that requires me to immediately trigger my regeneration gland.
The Croc is staggering now but so are we. Vibrant has nothing left in the tank and Crinis is almost sagging with exhaustion. Tiny has managed to sit up but he hasn't been able to get back into the fight. Not for lack of trying, he is dragging himself through the dirt with one arm whilst the other is held against his doubtlessly shattered ribs.
The Croc becomes increasingly desperate, growling and roaring with pure rage as it struggles. Pinned to the spot, unable to move due to a leg that feels as if the weight of the world were resting on it, attacked from all sides and bleeding, the beast does the only thing it thinks will save it.
It opens its lower mouth and covers itself in fire.
[Ahhhhh!] Crinis screams and rapidly untangles her limbs, flinging herself out of the flames.
Damn that hurts!
I'm cooking right here!
The heat is intense, but the Croc is cooking itself just as surely as it's cooking us. This is the last gasp attack!
Vibrant falls back from the flames but I stay. Overhead the massive Croc looms, its double jaws gaping as it laboriously heaves air into its burning lungs.
My antennae twitch. I can sense the next moments before they happen. The Croc stretches wide its lower jaw and lunges forward, seeking to end the pest that has caused such injury to it in one bite.
In my mind it happens in slow motion, every movement following a pattern that I'd already seen. I spin around, facing away from the Croc. The jaws are almost upon me as I raise my abdomen high, presenting the justice department in all its glory.
I fill the monsters guts with acid one second before its jaws close and tear away at my flesh.