Arslan took another look at the poor creature; it didn’t deserve life; its existence was causing it to suffer. He covered his mouth and with muffled words said, “I can’t be here. That thing… I might not have a proper idea of ethical behavior, but…” Arslan began to fidget in place. “That thing is a monster, a nightmare. And frankly, I don’t think I want to continue with these live transmutations.”
The Dean’s joy turned sour, and he sighed, “I’m sorry you feel this way about the experiments.”
“Perhaps there is another way, a cure may be a less drastic genetic modification,” Arslan reasoned.
Arden pulled out a napkin and wiped the corners of his mouth, “Arslan, don’t worry about it. You’ve had a rough week.” He smiled and placed a hand on Arslan’s shoulder. “Take a few days off, get away from researching. Today was filled with new experiences for everyone. I’ll be in my office when you’re ready and tell me if you still feel the same way.”
“Right… I’ll go do that,” Arslan said, backing away and eventually turning around to where he came out from. Even in the halls, he could still hear the haunting wails of the half-man creature. He shuddered as he left the wing.
Avelyn looked over the edge of the cliff; below she could see small versions of Mandilyn and Arslan standing next to each other on the shoreline. She tied her hair into a high ponytail and swan-dived from the cliff. She plunged a few meters into the lake. Her crashing into the water sent a wave splashing before Mandilyn and Arslan, getting them slightly wet. Mandilyn wiped away some of the water that had splashed on her, and she exhaled a large amount of air then said, “I don’t understand how this is getting away from your work.”
Arslan had seated himself down on a log. He held an arrow and a clear bottle filled with a noxious-smelling liquid. He coated the tip of the arrow in the liquid. It was a paralytic poison kindly harvested from a certain bee-woman. The thin fluid quickly exited in droplets on top of the arrowhead and dripped off. Once coated enough, Arslan placed the finished product on a neatly placed cloth on the ground to dry. He smiled and said, “Field study is pretty cathartic to me, reminds me of the freedom I have without this contract.”
“You know, Arslan. Even though I’ve spent the most time with you, I don’t think I’ll ever understand you,” Mandilyn admitted.
Arslan shrugged, finishing the last arrow’s coating. “Think of it like this, instead of hunting for materials to make more girls, and we’re hunting a rank ‘A’ sea-beast for food, and spending quality time together, like a family.”
“Hmm,” Mandilyn hummed, “That sounds great and all, but you didn’t have to bring the glowing rock.” She pointed to the light emanating from the openings in his bag.
“Eh, I wanted to try a few experiments, Estelletoria isn’t too far from here so I’d like to involve her in some studies with the mystical space rock.”
Mandilyn raised an eyebrow. “’ Mystical space rock?’” She repeated.
“Well, I don’t have any place of origin other than it being from a civilization that doesn’t exist anymore,” Arslan rebutted.
“Ugh, you could have at least came up with something cooler than that.” Just then, a sea-serpent burst from the depths with Avelyn hanging onto one of its many protruding dorsal spines. She gasped the moment the two had breached the surface. Although drakes were more known for hunting on land, they were, however, just as skilled at holding their breath to acquire fish if need be. Mandilyn stared in amazement as the snake-like monster’s scales reflected the light, making it appear to be covered in a rainbow. It stretched far beyond the cliff that Avelyn jumped from. The sea-beast tried to shake Avelyn off by wildly thrashing its limbless body around.
Arslan fawned over the creature, taking in stunning beauty. “Leviathans are gorgeous, ain’t they?”
Mandilyn was gleaming with a smile and shouted, “Yes! It’s wonderful!” only to look over to Arslan nocking an arrow onto his bow. She looked at him in disbelief. “You can’t be serious, that’s what we are hunting?”
Arslan let the bowstring go, sending the arrow flying to penetrate a soft spot in the Leviathan’s rainbow of armor, right next to Avelyn, who in return yelled, “Watch where you’re shooting, you idiot!” she had continued to climb up towards its head using the dorsal spines.
The Leviathan brought its head back towards the two and released its most powerful attack, a high pressure, jet stream of water. The water blasted a wide area, and now eighty percent of the trees behind them could be considered stumps, the tops were destroyed so thoroughly it was almost like they never existed to begin with.
Mandilyn sighed, “Fine!” a spear appeared in her hands in a burst of magical flames. She jumped from rock to rock, cliff to cliff until she was able to land on the twisting creature.
Arslan was about to load up another arrow but noticed the glow from the stone in his bag. “Well, it is a field study,” He said out loud to nobody in particular. He put the arrow back on the cloth and reached into his bag, grabbing the stone; however, the moment he did the runes he carved into his arm flared back up and poured blood, he winced and dropped to his knees. For some reason, as much as he wanted to scream, he couldn’t. Much of his body functions felt like they weren’t responding to his brain’s orders. Then he blinked and the pain subsided.
Arslan opened his eyes, feeling the relief, but what he saw sent him into a state of confusion. Everything around him was different, the trees were dead, the water was drained, and the sky had a black sun that rained what seemed to be black ash.
Arslan shivered as he felt the temperature drop substantially. He frantically looked around for any sight of the girls. “Mandilyn, Avelyn!” He called out and waited but received no answer. He looked around; everything looked the same as previously only everything was grimmer and bleaker.
“Where am I?” Arslan whispered. He then felt a slight sting in his arm causing him to look at the injured arm; the skin underneath felt highly discomforted, he unwrapped the bandages to find that his arm was covered in those same strange language symbols as the stone.
That’s when he saw it, a shadowy, multi-limbed winged creature, it screamed as it flew across the sky. Instinctively, he hid behind the log he previously sat upon. He reinforced his question, “Where the hell am I!?”