As the six man group reached the top of the hill, they could see far into the distance. Rivers flowed throughout the forest like snakes stalking their prey. Some of the trees reach dozen of feet tall with branches a few meters thick. Some hills were as tall as mountains and some valley sunk to the abyss. The golem face pointed in the distance to a small lake; well relatively small compared to the forbidden wildlands. It looked like it stretched a few acres across. It was in a clearing surrounded by vegetation, the moonlight reflected off it surface.
“It seems the elf stopped at the lake. Rest here and be ready to head out in 30 minutes. You must be prepared for battle.” Donovan instructed to the rest of the group. The golem dog fell down and turned into dust. He took a few steps away from them, set down and calmed his breathing before going into meditation. The other four found their own separate spots and followed his example. The mountain looked over them and started to make separate plans.
“If she is as strong as they say she is, I will only be a hindrance besides being a meat shield. They probably plan on sacrificing me to reserve as much strength as they can to take that bitch down. I’ll find an excuse to leave the fight and kill the five night guards and the tree dweller.” He smiled
“The night guards, ptooey, more like the five night walkers. Probably work in the red light district after midnight.” The mountain thoughts began to spin as he took his seat by himself. His body seemed to be the most exhausted out of the six.
After a while, the five night guards open their eyes and stood up at the same time. They started readying themselves. Two held swords to their sides while another two checked over the equipment on them such as their bracers and rings. The leader, Donovan, checked his rings and the beautifully crafted dagger at his side. He proceeded to give a quick briefing on the target.
“What we know about this woman is that she carries a bow. Expect that she is a reliable shot and is able to hit us from at least 25 meters maybe 35 meters since she not fully recovered. “
The rest of the group including the mountain was nodding their head. More knowledge meant less surprises in the combat. This could save their lives.
“She was brought in originally to set-up a formation for the Yokai school. We have almost no information on her formation skills. We do not know the scale of her formations, the formations she proficient in or how long it takes for her to create one. That will be the biggest unknown.”
The mountain gulped starting to feel a bit anxious.
“The biggest danger is to willingly walk into any formation master domain. A formation that been set up can be anything from 2 – 3 times stronger than a spell at a similar level. I cannot promise that everyone will make it back alive but if we all focus, we can minimize casualties and guarantee the mission success.”
He looked over the group not caring if the mountain heard his words or not.
“Even if we are of lower rank, we are still considered the lord’s retainers. Death before disgrace.” He shouted, placing his fist over his heart.
The rest of the group followed his hand gesture then moved out. The mountain followed to their side.
As the woman walked towards the formations she placed, she had her bow in hand. She saw a 6 man group come from the clearing. There were 5 of them with the same set of equipment while the giant of the group armor looked heavy and full of embellishments. They were all in a group but the giant looked out of place. Not only his size compared to the normal humans but he didn’t seem to fit into their formation either. They were more than 50 meters away from her. They all walked a certain length apart and stayed in formation while he just seems to walk to the side. This might be something she could use to her advantage.
“Leave now. I have no conflict with your people or kind. If you continue down this path, your life shall be forfeit.” She was still not in optimal condition but she recovered a fair bit. 50 meters was the furthest she could hit a moving target and also would be relatively out of range from basic attacks.
A man took two steps forward from the group of five and began to speak.
“We mean no hard or wish ill feelings towards you and your people but you left us in a difficult position.” He started.
“I am called Donovan and I lead this small platoon of night guards to bring back the magic crystal on the lord request. It is imperative to power many of the facilities back in the city. We have a few but every one of them is used for the citizen and their wellbeing. If you return it to us now, we should still be able to negotiate peacefully and put this all behind us.” He spoke elegantly.
She felt a small flow of mana being used by one of the guards in the back once they came out from the trees. It powered some device in his pocket. His words were eloquent but his words didn’t contain the full truth.
“The magic crystal was never originally yours or your lord. This was brought back with me from my homeland to your city to help build and power a few formations and barriers at a local school by the principal there. It was never meant to be used at the discretion of the lord or power his war machines to the north.”
Donovan quickly intervened.
“You shouldn’t so easily believe the rumors of some of the more disgruntled populace. Our records show that we are indeed missing one such mana crystal but if this is a mistake on our part we will surely apologize and compensate you handsomely. All we ask is that you come back with us and be on house arrest while we figure things out. In the meantime let us be in charge over th-“
The woman interjected.
“This crystal shall stay in my hands. Please leave at once.” Her voice carrying a bit more force.
That atmosphere changed. The six people unconsciously brought their hands to their weapons and began to allow the mana in their body to flow more freely. She notices the change and nocked an arrow in her bow but had it aim towards the floor.
Donovan walked up away from the group and kept his hands in visible sight while laughing a bit.
“Let’s not get hasty now. I think we got off on the wrong foot.”
He started walking until he was 40 meters away from her and she called out to him.
“Take another step and I will be force to attack. This is my last warning to you guys. Leave now. I will visit your lord in the future.”
He continues to smile but his eyes had turned serious. He slowly lowered his hands to they were at his waist. A ball dropped from his sleeve and lit up. Once it touched the ground, smoke began to rise.
“Attack.” He yelled
A huge smoke screen began to clog her vision. She saw flashes of lights in the back. She began to backpedal while looking for any signs of movement. Out of the shadows appeared wind arrows and fireball that came crashing at her from the front. She began to place mana in her foot and tap down on the ground. The area around her lit up and a wall of wind formed around her.
“Wind Wall!” she yelled.
The magic were thrown away as if they were struck by a mini typhoon. This was clearly a distraction because two of the people from the group and The Mountain began charging at her. They were running side by side and their own aura lit up increasing their speed. The Mountain continue to move at a jog while making sure he protected himself.
“There are two magic users and three swordsmen. The leader seems to be knowledgeable in both.” She thought.
She deactivated the formation and began to fire at the approaching enemies while she continued to circle around the land. Arrows begin to fill the air and rain down on the group like precipitation. She would continue to fire but it seemed that her quiver never had a single arrow less. These halted the advance of the two night guard but the mountain slowly but surely approach her while protecting his vitals.
She reached for an arrow in her quiver that looked slightly unique. The arrowhead is slightly rounder and bigger than the shaft of the arrow. It was also double the size of a normal arrow head. She inserted mana into the arrow and nocked it. She aimed at the mountain and sent it flying. He proceeded to block it like usual but the impact sent him flying over a dozen meters. He fell an equal distance between the night guard warriors and magic users. The arrow was not only meant for blunt force but to vibrate the insides causing a drop of blood to ooze from his mouth. An arrow in her quiver decreased by one.
“That should buy me a minute or so to deal with the other two. The real pressing issue is that the leader disappeared after the smoke cleared and the two magic-users in the back been preparing something big.” She began focusing around her.
She saw the two guards were dodging the majority of the arrows and knock down the remaining few. Their physique would allow them to keep this up for hours but this stalemate wasn’t a bad thing for her. This pace of fighting was fine but they would be taken out one at a time at this rate. She then felt a pressure from behind them and frowned. She knew she had to make a decision.
A flaming pheasant and a gryphon surrounded by wind appeared. They began to fly forward accompanied by several more rounds of fireballs and wind arrows from the magic-users. They looked slightly haggard after the spell.
“They are not just normal wizards but also conjurers. “ She hesitated but then steeled her resolve.
She began to run towards while firing arrows. Her body didn’t feel as natural and light as usual but she knew she couldn’t prolong this fight after those two creatures appeared. They would be a hassle and would feed off the environment’s mana as long as they were linked to the castors.
She withdrew 3 arrows from her quiver that was unique. As the two creatures approached they tried to dodge as many of the arrows while batting the rest away with their wings. The skin was tougher than many metals and this level of arrows wouldn’t affect them. They could feel the mana coming from the quiver and was warry of the arrows. So they opt to dodge and reflect them as they approached her.
During the flurry of normal arrows, she released two unique arrows at an opening the beasts had. They were able to pierce through their skin and Taser their insides. This caused both of them to temporary freeze falling on top of each other. They would be able to recover from this damage easy but the magic-users had a premonition that this wouldn’t end with only that.
Once they realize that things weren’t looking good; they released another flurry of spells from fireballs, mini-explosions and wind spears.
This didn’t dissuade her approach and she released her third arrow with an arrow head that resembled a ball of vines. This arrow took flight and came in contact with the flaming pheasant. The vine like arrow unraveled and wrapped up the two beasts in vines that resembled chains. This caused the flaming body of the pheasants to burn the gryphon. The beast continued to struggle in the vines to no avail. The magic-users looked over in shock.
“That vine cut off whoever wrapped in it from accessing their mana or the environment mana. The vines are harder than steel and would be a problem to destroy. The problem is that it will become a constant drain on my mana. A small amount but I’m not in the best condition for any constant drain. “She quickly calculated the time it would take for them to break free while finally arriving at a specific spot.
“The mages are too exhausted from calling the beast to this side to do any real damage but they can probably help ware down the chains durability. I still do not see the leader. It’s time to bait him out. “
She smile and allowed the mana to go along her feet to the ground. A formation appeared under her and mana began to be drawn from the environment around her. An opening came from the bottom of her quiver using her will. A few seeds dropped out falling to the ground.
She began to take the mana conversing around her and her own mana pool and implanted it into the seeds. They began to bloom into trees, flowers and even nature golems.
“This headache is too painful and I feel myself losing control. I probably can only keep this up for a few minutes. It’s too early for this body to be controlling this much mana.” She thought.
The two night guard swordsmen in front started to realize how strong she truly was. It was one thing to hear about it but another to truly experience it. They continue to dodge and look for an opening to attack.
“She likes a one woman archery brigade. Arrows continue to appear on her bow but none ever disappeared from her quiver unless they are special like the one that hit that idiot.” One of the swordsmen thought.
“We must find a way to break through quickly or allow an opening for the boss to assassinate her. Her guard is up and we do not know what other formations she has.” One night guard mentally sent to the other.
“Just guard us and we will take care of the rest.” The swordsman felt a flame and a wind pressure from behind them. The wind knocked away many of the arrows and they smiled. They saw the pheasant and gryphon appeared and stepped over the mountain to get directly in front of the mages. They decided to protect them and allow the creatures to attack. The woman looked up a bit worried at the beast to their relief.
“At least she not able to deal with every situation” one of them thought as the beast rushed forward.
She began to focus her arrows down on the creatures who continue to blow them away. Just as quickly as they got an advantage, they notice her bring out three of those arrows. After a few seconds of her normal flurry, she released them in the mix stunning then trapping the beast in an instant.
“She’s this strong on her last leg?” one of them shook with a bit of fear.
“We have to make an opening now before she whittle us down” the other one said about to spring forward noticing Hihi still on the ground shook.
“Useless” he said but as he looked up he felt the mana converging from the outside and saw seeds falling to the floor. Seconds later, they began to spring up into mushroom, flowers, trees, medical plants and even a few into some golems. Four of the golems sprung forward and four stayed by her side. Two dogs and two swordsman’s golem sprung forward to meet night guard while two spear-users golems an archer and a dog stayed by her side acting as guards.
“Will we die here without accomplishing anything of any worth?” one of the swordsman whispered while staring at the woman who started to seem like some type of monster of the forest.
The woman looked at the charging and golems and the ones by her side.
“They are not as strong or skilled as the night guard but the guards will die if they do not receive any help soon. I believe they will only last a minute at most.” She looked down at the flowers and mushrooms spreading pollen and spores and smile.
“Finally this will end soon” she commented. She placed her back on the tree which was sucking up the nutrients from the ground before it start turning green.
“This will allow my base recovery to improve and the ability to control the golems better but it leaves me as an easy target because I’m immobile. I always feel safer with my control post. “She thought while closing her eyes and seeing the world through the terrain and its energy like the tree.
She suddenly saw a drop in the vitality of both magic-users but their power increased exponentially. The swordsman body lit up and with a drop in their vitality also. The swordsman blew past the golem with pure strength and speed. In the next moment the fire magic-user and wind-user compressed a flaming sword with temperatures so high, even the flaming pheasant was visibly shock. It slashed down on the two creatures, releasing the vine like chains on them. They quickly got up and began to charge at her. The flaming sword appeared before her but was diverted by vines causing it to hit the pouch with the crystal, causing visible damage. The wind magic-user vitally disappeared completely and he fell over. This was after he cast he last spell which made them seem to teleport towards her. She was impressed and surprised but calm. She didn’t understand why they were willing to go this far for the crystal but she didn’t have time to think about it.
The vines spread out completely touching multiple spots in the area activating multiple formations. The wind wall appeared around her again but was easily broken through by the brute force of the creatures after a few seconds. The swordsmen knocked away her golem guards and proceeded to aim for her life. That’s all she needed when the earthen spikes suddenly sprung up impaling the slowly disappearing creatures and the swordsmen while the flowers and mushrooms swayed in the wind. The swordsmen looked shocked before one smiled. In her vision, she saw the spores attached to an unknown entity a few meters behind her who was invisible to the naked eye.
Before she had a chance to completely turn around a knife was impelled slightly under her collarbone. The man suddenly became visible and smiled. She grabbed the dagger and pushed it deeper into her body not allowing him to let go while a tree vine ran through him and stopped before it touched her. His smile stiffened before he laughed.
“No one shall leave this place…including you. That dagger… is laced with the same poison that put you in the state you are in now.” He had a bit of melancholy in his eyes. He turned his head when he heard laughing in the distant.
“Speak for yourself.” The mountain roared with laughter as he got up. He kicked the wind-magic user body before he approached the group.
“It seems I will get sole credit for bringing back the magic crystal and even killing the formation master “Autumn”. I can already see my legend spread. “He laughed with obvious contentment.
If someone were to walk by, it would truly be a weird picture. A woman surrounded by ground spikes that had ran through bodies but she was impaled herself and was slowly turning black. The man who impaled her was also impaled by a tree and who was glaring at a man that was laughing at their situation.
“You guys will only be a stepping stone in my legend.”
He stared at the woman with obvious lust before he shook his head.
“You probably don’t remember me at the castle. I still remember you looking past me like I didn’t exist. I’m a kind man, I will end you suffering quickly and bring your head back for all to see. “The mountain was laughing so loud that spit flew everywhere.
The leader glared but finally spoke.
“We left tracks, so a secondary team should be here in half a day. You’re unnecessary.” He finally let another ball drop that exploded and a toxic mist expanded.
Before the mountain could run, a vine swept his feet and temporary held him there. He saw the woman looking down on him just like before he fell asleep for the last time.
She felt the poison spreading inside her. She knew that a decision had to be made quickly. Her life was draining from her body. After a bit of struggling she came to a decision and finished a formation over her head, heart and slightly above her navel using mana and her own blood. She hesitated once more before she drummed up the courage for what she was about to do.
“Lady Fauna, forgive me for breaking the natural order.”
She activated the three formations simultaneously with all the mana gathered from the earlier formation and her remaining mana. A spirit that had the same form of “Autumn” became attached to the crystal before the crystal rolled into the lake.