He staggered backwards and away from the pedestal, clutching the dagger in both hands. Raithe watched as the walls around them, fell away. Blue lights lit the now, much larger room, illuminating the empty space. Standing in the very center was... his eyes opened wide. It was a creature not nearly as strange as the others, but probably only because it was seen in many mythologies. The Minotaur though motionless, stared at him with menacing eyes.
“C-cool!” Mika said.
“You're... excited about this thing?” Raithe asked.
“It's a mythological creature... of course I am!”
Just wait till it starts attacking, Raithe thought. There could only be one explanation for the walls dropping away as they did, revealing the Minotaur. That thing, was the guardian of this tomb. Or perhaps it was only put here to prevent the dagger from being stolen. That was the most likely scenario. Whatever the case was though, Raithe knew that a battle was imminent.
The Minotaur took a step forward and the ground shook with its weight. The beast clutched both hands at its sides, squeezing them tightly to create white fists. Then it raised its head to the ceiling and let out a primal roar.
Raithe twitched as the sound reverberated, vibrating his chest. “Get back,” he told Mika.
“I can... fight too...” Mika said, but there was uncertainty in his voice and written all over his face.
“No. Felix and I can take care of him.”
Mika seemed to be really relieved then and wasted no time in running back to the staircase. “Be careful!” he shouted.
Felix growled as she walked up beside Raithe.
“Let's go,” he said and placed the black dagger on the floor. With a single kick, it was sitting only a few feet away from Mika. Though the kid moved to grab it, a single look stayed his hand. Raithe didn't know anything about that weapon, other than the fact that it felt somehow off. Like it was trying its best to make him do things he would rather not. It would be best if Mika stayed away from it.
Another roar rang out through the room and then the Minotaur lowered its head and charged like a bull.
Raithe only had enough time to jump to the side and roll out of the way. He climbed back to his feet and winced when the creature stopped just a couple feet from Mika. The Minotaur's eyes fell on the kid. A long moment followed when no one moved. Not Raithe, not Felix, not Mika and not even the Minotaur.
Mika stood with his hands clenched, staring at the beast, determined to not move his eyes away. Felix stood still, looking over her shoulder at the Minotaur and Raithe stared back at the thing, horrified with the possibility of it attacking his little friend. And the Minotaur stared into Mika's eyes.
It turned with heavy steps that shook the floor. Thump... thump... and then the creature was once again, facing Raithe. Another pause. “You Purren,” it finally said. It's voice was a deep rumble and full of disgust. “You who threatens to take away the daemon, must face me in a trial. Defeat me here and you may leave, but lose and your soul will remain as one of the wraiths. Doomed to spend an eternity alone and in the dark.”
As if in response to the Minotaur's words, the screech he had heard earlier, filled the room. It was followed by a cackling as three, dark entities came out of one of the walls. They appeared humanoid, but without legs. Long, billowing cloaks hung from their bodies as they swirled around in the air and hoods covered their faces. Then they were gone.
So if he lost, he would become one of those things? Raithe did not like that idea. And what would happen to Mika and Felix. Would they become a wraith as well? Or would they be set free? He had to know. “What about them?” he asked.
The Minotaur raised an eyebrow. “Curious,” it said. “You are not the heartless monster I thought you would be, which means...” it glanced at the dagger on the floor and wrapped up in his shirt. Then its eyes found Raithe once again. “Leave the dagger and you may leave here, with your friends. If you do not, a fight is imminent.”
“Answer the question!” Raithe said more forcefully.
“Your friends will be fine as long as they do not touch the dagger. I will even find them a safer way out.”
The creature seemed sincere still, Raithe eyed him suspiciously. The last time he had fully trusted a stranger, he was thrown off the deck of a ship and into an ocean full of sea monsters. Of course it would have ended that way regardless, but Raithe would have preferred it to be at his own pace.
“Alright,” he said and drew his dagger.
This time both the Minotaur's eyebrows raised, they narrowed into a look of anger a few seconds later. “If either of them help you, they will face a similar fate if you should be defeated,” it said. Then without warning, the Minotaur charged forward, twisted on one hoof, while swinging his leg around.
Raithe didn't have time to dodge and ended up taking it in the gut. The sheer force and power of that kick, sent him flying into the wall nearly twenty feet away. He fell to the floor breathless and aching everywhere. His dagger fell with a metallic clang.
“Raithe!” Mika shouted in a worried voice, “G-get up!”
He glanced in the direction where Felix had been standing. His vision swam with even the slightest movement and Raithe had to squint his eyes to get them to focus again.
Felix was running around the Minotaur as the oversized creature was struggling desperately to keep an eye on her. She ran around behind it, leaping onto the Minotaur's back. Teeth and claws sunk into the creature's tough hide and it roared in protest. An oversized hand, latched onto one of Felix's legs and flung her several feet away. She cried in agony as the floor came in contact with her body.
Raithe watched helplessly as this all happened over a period of only a few seconds. His only thought of relief was that she hadn't been thrown against the wall like he had. With a groan of pain, Raith struggled to his feet, he staggered, teetered in place, but regained his equilibrium and stared at the Minotaur squarely. There had to be a way to defeat it but... it was just so big. Raithe couldn't see how it would even be possible for him.
Use me, a voice sounded in his head. I can kill it if you just give me a chance. Use me to kill... kill.
His eyes fell on the black dagger. Before he could move or do anything, the creature stepped purposefully into his line of vision.
“If you fall for that... thing's requests. If you allow it to control you, then you are not the person I thought you could become.”
Raithe ignored him and moved his gaze to the other dagger. It too had whispered something, but not in words. It was more like a feeling. Don't listen to him, she said. I will aid you in any battle and don't require you to kill to win my favor. Let me help you. He furrowed his brow in determination and as the Minotaur brought a fist down onto the stone floor, Raithe rolled forward. He came to where the crystalline dagger was and picked it up. Raithe stood up, willed it to transform and charged forward.
With a furry, he screamed,
The Minotaur was still raising his hand where it had hit the stone with so much force, that it had shattered like glass under the creature's weight. It turned and swung another fist at Raithe, narrowly missing.
Raithe ducked and slid on the floor, under the Minotaur's legs. The creature was so slow that it barely had time to turn and block with an arm, before Raithe brought his sword down.
Red oozed from the minor cut. It was something amazing, how strong the creature's hide really was. Raithe didn't think that Felix could have hurt him, as sharp as her teeth and claws were. To the Minotaur, it was probably the equivalent of being stung by a bee. Reacting quickly, Raithe pulled the sword out and hopped backwards, right as another fist came down, over the arm. Any longer and it would have connected with his skull. He raised his sword, ready for another charge.
Do not kill him, came the female voice again. To win this fight, you need only to disable your opponent.
“And how do I do that?” He asked her. Raithe knew he would probably sound crazy, talking to his weapon. He was sure that no one else could hear her and what if he was just imagining her voice? What then? Did that mean he was going insane?
Will me to transform into something else. Something that might help in this situation.
Will her to transform? He thought she only had two forms. The coin which had been used to open the way into Galeron and which no longer worked – he tried – and the sword which had come to him when he needed it the most. So she had other forms then?
Any tool or weapon, she sent.
The Minotaur snorted and Raithe could have sworn that he saw little puffs of smoke come out of its nostrils. Then it stamped one hoof three times and charged. It almost looked like a bird with both hands stretched out to its sides like that, flying at a low altitude.
In his mind, Raithe pictured a certain item. Forming it, locking onto its appearance. In his hand, the sword changed, morphing into that item. Two long, thick chains connected to each other. Three balls of iron connected to the ends. Raithe raised his hands and started swinging it. Twirling the item around in a circle. And then, as the Minotaur approached his range, he swung. It wrapped itself around the creature's legs and with a crash, the Minotaur fell.
It was done.