The light steadied itself after a moment, but Shadow was suddenly very aware there was a time limit for this battle, and it was quickly approaching.
She had to help somehow.
But what can I do?
She was too injured. Even pushing past the pain, if she could, she was still down a leg. So was the red-eyes, but it had the advantage of being way bigger and faster than she was. She wasn’t going to be able to keep up with the battle crippled like this.
Jonas and the creature were constantly moving. He was making sure the battle steered away from the tree-eater but wasn’t making much progress toward actually finishing the fight. He was breathing hard at this point, the effort of blocking and dodging constantly taking its toll, although he had managed to avoid any visible injury.
The red-eyes wasn’t doing much better, clearly winded from the battle as well. It was still leaking blood but the flow had already started to slow. It probably wouldn’t bleed out. The gaping wounds were starting to have an effect though. It wasn’t moving nearly as fast as it had been at the start, and was getting sloppier with its strikes. Jonas was starting to get in small cuts on its arms again, but it wasn't nearly enough.
The gold lines flickered again and Annie grunted. They took a moment but steadied themselves.
There’s not enough time.
Her problem was that she couldn’t keep up with the fight. She somehow needed to get in a position to hurt the thing while she was crippled like this.
She needed to close the distance without having to rely on her busted-up body.
Right. I should be able to do that, shouldn’t I?
She’d only done it the one time, on instinct right before she was going to be eaten. She shivered at the thought. That wasn’t a pleasant memory. She’d been too weak to get it to work the last time she'd tried, but she’d been practicing with her energy a lot since then, and it felt much stronger now. By this point her acid spit had worked its way up to full potency.
This can work.
If she could just… move herself into position, all she needed to do was pick the best spot to... appear?
She didn’t have long, so thought fast, at first intending to just go for its other back leg again, but she wasn't sure that would end the fight. It would help a lot, and Jonas would certainly end the fight faster, but they didn’t have much time.
Take out its eyes.
If she could really just appear wherever she wanted, she could plant herself right on its face.
She could blind it. The fight would be over. Jonas should be able to end things quickly if it couldn’t see.
She knew it was dangerous to put herself on its face, so close to its deadly jaws and a place it could easily strike with its claws but she didn’t have time to worry about it.
She focused and the shadow fluff flowed out, but she kept pushing harder. The shadows started to pool under her, and she felt that vague notion that she could... go somewhere. Somehow. She pushed, focusing on its face, on the way she wanted to land, and then she felt like she was falling.
There was a brief moment of nothingness, and then she felt herself land on a furry surface. She saw the creature’s eyes widen as they locked on to her, stiff with surprise, golden light flickering in the background.
“Sweet gods!” Jonas exclaimed in the background.
She was resting on its face, draped over its snout. She acted immediately. She sunk the claws from her one functional foreleg into its right eye and jammed her tongue in the other. The right eye was mangled and the other was boiling. Transparent red fluids spilled out them both.
The red-eyes (Or perhaps no-eyes now. Heh.) immediately started thrashing and howling, her claws rending its eye socket even more as she was jerked about.
She couldn’t maintain her grip in her condition and wasn’t really trying to anyway. Her task was complete. Her claws were torn from its face as the thrashing sent her flying off.
She was doing a lot of sailing through the air in this battle. Luckily she was a lot more 'with it' this time, having not just been smacked by one appendage or another, and managed to get her feet under her.
The impact still made her cry out in pain as she hit. The jolt sending bolts of agony through her body. She looked back at the blind creature to see it thrashing about, swinging its claws wildly around itself, hoping to hit something.
Jonas for his part was taking the thing apart, his blade finding opening after opening and slicing wide, bloody, swaths in the creature.
The golden light was constantly flickering now. Annie was pale and soaked, water all over her skin.
Shadow still wasn’t sure what that was all about. The thinkers seemed to just become wet when they were working hard. She’d need to ask about it sometime. Now was not that time.
My mind is wandering. Focus.
She was exhausted in more ways than one. Her body was spent after being thrown around and injured so much, but she also felt exhausted on a whole different level. The energy-strength within her felt feeble again, though not so bad as it had the first time. She was having trouble staying awake, but this was definitely not the time to sleep.
The situation changed. The red-eyes had had enough. It picked a direction and fled.
Unfortunately, it was blind and didn’t have much sense of where it was going, as it started barreling toward Annie.
She was too far away. She could barely move.
Shadow screeched as loud as she possibly could, trying to warn Annie, or make the red-eyes change course, something, anything!
Annie’s pained eyes flicked open just in time and saw what was coming for her. With all her remaining strength, she forced herself up and out of the way, stumbling to the side, the great beast barely brushing by her in its blind flight.
A flight which led it crashing directly into the tree-eater, surrounded by anchors that were dead and black.
Shadow's eyes went wide.
Oh that’s bad.
She felt a rumble in her bones that was slowly rising in pitch, turning from a feeling into a deep, deep sound.
The red-eyes was stumbling backward, its great impact with the tree-eater having stunned it.
The temperature started dropping. It had been cold around the tree-eater as it had slept, but not so cold that it was dangerous. That was changing quickly. The tree-eater started to get up, its head leaving its shell, eyes staring in wrath at the red-eyes that had dared challenge it. The noise coming from its mouth felt like an assault on her bodily structure as much as it was a sound.
A great plume of frost poured from its mouth, completely enveloping the red-eyes. The poor creature started screaming, a horrible sound, unlike anything it had made during the battle. It grew rougher and rougher before tapering off into nothing.
Jonas had not been idle.
“WE NEED TO GO!” Jonas roared over the unending bellow of the giant, as he rushed over, and gathered Annie up, slinging her over his shoulders. She was nodding but seemingly didn’t have the strength to stand or speak. He started stumbling away as fast as he could. He was still exhausted from the earlier battle.
Shadow forced herself up and started to limp away as well.
The cold in the air had spiked. It was seeping into her. She started to shiver uncontrollably as she dragged herself away.
I have to go faster…
It was getting too cold too fast. She saw Jonas as he trudged away, he had already outdistanced her. She couldn't keep up.
At least they’ll be safe.
The thought made her happy. She was slowing down despite her best efforts. It just hurt too much to keep going. She was so tired. She looked back toward the tree-eater. The red-eyes was visible again now that the white mist had faded. It stood motionless. It was encased in hunks of freezing crystal, its features locked in agony.
Oh no... now it will hurt forever...
She felt bad for it… nothing should have to hurt forever.
Some part of her insisted that didn't make any sense, but she was having trouble understanding why. Her thoughts were cloudy, sluggish. She wasn’t sure what was happening anymore. She felt like laying down, so she did. So tired.
The tree eater’s eyes shifted to her and the base bellow redoubled in strength. With the last vestiges of her consciousness, she realized that there was something else yelling too. Then she was flying again. No. Not flying, being held. Her eyes blearily focused and saw Jonas. She was tucked under his arm. He felt so warm.
But they already escaped…
“I couldn’t. very well. leave you. to die. after that. now could I?” He forced out between gasping breaths.
But Shadow had already drifted off to sleep.