Arslan’s magical aura flickered in and out of Estelletoria’s view. He was like the shadow of a candle’s flame, bouncing in and out of visibility. She tried her best in keeping sight of the man, but it was increasingly difficult as he moved. His silhouette didn’t accurately move with the logical fluidity that someone not made of ethereal energy did.
“Geez!” Mandilyn yelled, “Where is he even going?” Her foot sunk deep into a murky puddle of muck, the forest had quickly switched into a marshland. The two bee-girls had pulled the ultimate cheat, flying. Avelyn trudged through the muck, kicking the dirt as she traveled.
“If I had to guess, he’s probably in trouble,” Estelletoria calmly stated, watching Arslan’s magical aura plunge into a deep puddle then get up and continue running. Nisandra let out a little chuckle.
Mandilyn looked at Estelletoria and stuck out a hand in a gesture of confusion. “Can we do something about that?”
Estelletoria crossed her legs in mid-flight, simulating the motions as if she was sitting in a chair. Once again, she calmly said, “Not a damn thing.”
Arslan tripped and fell into the dirt and water. Turning around, he saw what was chasing behind him. The creature, a horse-like monstrosity with six wings, four sets of quadrupedal legs and saber-like teeth roared, its six arms twitched uncontrollably in a discordant synchronization.
The alchemist screamed, trying to scramble to his feet, losing the balance he so desperately needed in his panic. The horse face showed no particular emotion, was it hungry? Was it killing for some sick, sadistic reason? Its emotional disposition betrayed its intention. Whatever the reason, it still wanted him dead.
Arslan lifted his arms, screaming while lying on his back in the muck. An apple-sized black orb appeared from the muck; the only thing that could be made out was a giant eye in its center. Four more appeared from the dirt and mud, another in the shape of an eye another and the other two having mouths. They rearranged themselves in the formation of a face, eyes on top, and mouths on the bottom.
“Wha-?” Arslan said in frantic confusion.
“Trouble? Trouble!” said the mouths as the eyes took a glance at the approaching abomination, their voices were both high and low-pitched. The whole set got closer to him and spoke again. “Escape?”
Arslan nodded out of frantic reaction, shouting, “Yes!”
The mouths started to laugh horrifyingly, the pitch continually changing back and forth in synchronization was otherworldly and alien. Six insect-like arms protruded from the ground wrapping around Arslan, pulling him deep into the muck, any noise he could have made was quickly snuffed out from the quick covering of earth. Everything went black.
“Wait,” Estelletoria said, getting out of her comfortable position in the air, “Arslan’s gone.”
“What do you mean he’s ‘gone’?” Mandilyn asked with a hostile tone in her voice. Avelyn growled and raised her axe in anger. She was silently stopped by Mandilyn putting her hand over the top of her head.
Estelletoria’s eyes scoured the ground. “… He’s just…gone.” She vaguely explained.
“That’s impossible, right?” Mandilyn asked.
“It should be?” Estelletoria agreed. Turning towards her daughter, Nisandra, she asked, “Did you see where he went?” Nisandra shook her head.
“Then what do we do!?”
Estelletoria shrugged. “Wait here, go home, literally anything else? He’ll turn up eventually. Besides, I have to get back to my hive.”
“How could you not ca-” Mandilyn started, but her voice was being drowned out by a loud explosion coming in the direction of the college, without a second thought her instinct was to abandon what was out of her control and rush to the school, something she could observe for herself. She waved to Avelyn and yelled, “C’ mon!”
“I’ll have to sit this one out. Have fun you two!” Estelletoria shouted as the two girls left the marshlands.
As Avelyn and Mandilyn approached the school they could see about a dozen airships, massive flying machines made of wood and metal, taking the design of traditional boats modified to travel in the air, in between the smoke pillars that were erupting from several of the building’s wings.
The ships fired their broadside cannons hitting a clock tower; the whole building collapsed in on itself, throwing up massive dust and smoke clouds and forcing the air fleet to reposition for their bombardments. The two girls ran towards the courtyard and hid behind the wall when they heard voices. They peered over the wall and could immediately see a man and woman falling over with holes in their bodies after being cut by a group of six combatants who looked to be trained soldiers.
The attackers wore full plated, reddened steel armor. Their closed face helmets were obscuring. Their identities only being shown through their thin visors. That had been the only indication of them being human.
Mandilyn looked to her right and saw Avelyn starting to stand up, she whispered, “What do you think you’re doing fire-breath?!” Mandilyn tried grabbing onto the drake-girl’s hand and pulling her back down, but Avelyn’s muscles were too strong for the rabbit-girl. Pulling Avelyn down would require either heavy machinery or a miracle, and unfortunately, she didn’t have the luxury to get such machinery.
The soldiers noticed her standing immediately and took action. One of the least decorated soldiers yelled, “Captain over there!” and pointed, in the distance came a returning call of “Fire!” and five loud bangs went off with one making a metallic ‘clink’ as their weapons fired into the axe and ricocheted. This act was only successful in pissing the already pissed off lizard more. Avelyn went off in a sprint, tackling the first person she saw. Mandilyn stayed in her concealed spot and watched the lizard-girl impale the side of her axe in the gut of the soldier.
The soldier, moments before their death, held up their hands to try and stop the impact, or plead for their life, but neither one worked. Avelyn stepped on the soldier’s corpse and removed her axe from within. The other soldiers stood there in horror as they just witnessed a female with lizard qualities effortlessly slam a massive axe into their comrade.
“R-reform formation and s-shoot it!” The presumed captain nervously barked his orders. The group which had been previously spread out to cover maximum ground regrouped into a firing line. The remaining gunners raised their rifles and aimed at Avelyn. Then came another scream, this time within their tight squad, Mandilyn had jumped high into the air, landing on one of them and diagonally cutting another. The armor seemed to have only plating in the front while the back was softer leather. The captain took a few steps back and unsheathed his sword, but he didn’t make it very far in using it. Avelyn came barreling through and bisected him.
This action broke the soldiers’ morale. They tore away from their formation and ran deeper into the burning school.
Mandilyn stabbed through the stomach of the soldier she had landed on. Turning to Avelyn, she asked, “Do you feel better now that you’ve killed something?”
Avelyn hissed out a puff of smoke and spewed fire on a corpse, whether they were alive or dead was no longer in question. She calmly stated, “No. It wasn’t enough.”
Mandilyn looked up to the sky as an airship slowly flew overhead. “Looks like you’ll get all the chances you can.”