“Kh… Kha—” Rebecca choked on her own blood. She tried to hold the gaping wound on her neck with her hand, but it was no use—the blood kept pouring through her fingers.
“REBECCAAA!!!” Priscilla screamed and rushed to her fallen sister in arms.
“You traitorous—” Victoria dashed at Amarantha with her claymore drawn, but the assassin disappeared from her sight.
Amarantha appeared behind the Victoria and thrust her dagger through the gaps of the warrior’s armor—at the waist and behind the knee, both critical hits. Crippled, Victoria fell to her knees while Amarantha sprinted to Priscilla.
Because Amarantha’s [Blink] spell was on cooldown, Priscilla saw the purple-haired assassin coming and managed to dodge a fatal attack at her neck, but the second attack from Amarantha proved just as deadly. The assassin effortlessly cut through the side of the healer’s light armor and rushed to her last target while Priscilla bled out on the ground behind her.
“AMY! STOP!” Cassy desperately screamed. She raised her bow and managed to nock an arrow despite her shaking hands. The ranger grit her teeth, aiming at the swift and nimble assassin, but there was no conviction on her face. The terrified girl could never have imagined that one of their own, someone with whom they’ve spent their entire lives ever since they escaped from that dreadful orphanage, would betray them in such a cruel and senseless way.
“Please, why are you—” Cassy tried to reason with her dearest friend but was swiftly silenced. Forever. Cassy never found out why Amarantha betrayed her and the others. The only mercy she received was a quick death—the ranger’s decapitated head fell to the ground at Amarantha’s feet before her headless body toppled over.
“MURDERER!!!” Victoria screamed and swung her claymore at the standing Amarantha. But the assassin effortlessly dodged the attack and increased the distance from the warrior until they were at least thirty feet apart.
Amarantha gracefully landed on her feet, while Victoria barely managed to stand. She used her claymore for support and pressed her wound with her free hand. Victoria looked at the grinning, self-satisfied assassin and said, “You bastard... How could you do this to your sisters?”
“We’re not even related,” Amarantha shrugged.
“We’ve been together for eighteen years!” Victoria screamed. “How could you!?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Amarantha asked sarcastically and raised her hands as if the others should have seen this coming. “Remember the night when the four of us had some fun while you sat in the corner polishing your claymore?”
“… You’re going to have to be more specific,” Victoria said. Way too many cold winter nights flashed through her mind when her sisters in arms kept each other warm the best way they knew. Victoria was the only one who refused to participate, despite the blatant advances from the others, especially Priscilla.
“Remember that time I asked Cassy to take those small wooden balls and place them into my—”
“Oh, no,” Victoria gasped as the horrifying truth dawned on her before Priscilla even finished her sentence.
“That’s right!” Amarantha proclaimed. “For years I have fantasized about oviposition! Eventually, my fantasies were not enough. I rushed our expedition to this lair. And when I saw how happy the girls here are, I made up my mind. I want nothing more than to give myself to Ararachni!”
“Then why didn’t you just go here alone and disappear along with your disgusting fantasies!?”
“And risk you killing the creature? No! You were the only competent adventurers in the area. Obviously, you all had to die!”
“You’re insane!” Victoria screamed.
“It’s the rest of the world that’s insane!” Amarantha said. “Why should I suffer through the rest of my life, fighting for scraps to sustain a meager existence, when a much better option exists? No pain. No worries. A much better existence than anyone could possibly imagine!”
“I’ve heard enough!” Victoria said and raised her claymore. Her whole body ached from each move she made, but Victoria’s resolve was strong. “I will kill you for what you have done. Here. Now!”
“You can try,” Amarantha smiled wickedly and licked the blood off her dagger.
Victoria’s attack was interrupted. Both she and Amarantha were covered in webs right where they stood. Out of the shadows, their original target, Ararachni, approached. An eight-legged abomination.
“Ara… Ara,” the monster hissed in a high-pitched voice, that pierced the ears. Ararachni was grotesque. Its flesh was sickly red, green, and purple. Each of its legs was of different lengths and thicknesses. The head of the monster was asymmetrical, with fifteen protruding black eyes, covering the head seemingly at random.
It approached Amarantha first, towering over the girl.
“Valkyrie’s Last Stand!” Victoria shouted. Her blade shined with divine light, melting the surrounding web from the claymore and her arm. Ararachni paid no attention to Victoria. Instead, the monster salivated over Amarantha. Victoria managed to cut the rest of the webs that held her and freed herself. She looked ahead at Amarantha, who was face to face with the eight-legged abomination.
“Ah, Yes!” Amarantha extended her one free hand toward the monster. “For so long… I’ve waited for so long! Please, take me now! I can’t bear it anymore!”
Victoria raised her claymore, ready to charge and strike down her former comrade, but hesitated at the last second when she saw Ararachni already raising its many crooked appendages above the captured girl.
If I move there now, even if I can strike down Ararachni’s prey, it will surely strike back against me in vengeance, Victoria thought. And as I am right now, I won’t be fast enough to avoid both its legs and the webs.
Victoria turned around and saw Priscilla, bleeding, covered in webs, but with open eyes.
“Priscilla!?” Victoria screamed in surprise. She’s alive!?
Victoria left Amarantha to her fate and limped toward Priscilla.
“Hold on, dear sister,” Victoria said and freed Priscilla from her ropes. Victoria then helped Priscilla up, supporting most of her friend’s weight.
“Ugh,” Priscilla moaned, wincing from the pain that emanated from the gaping wound on the side of her torso. “If we somehow make it through this I will do things to you that no girl has ever done before. Which would be—cough—completely immoral if we were related by blood.”
“It’s a good thing we’re not,” Victoria said, indulging her friend’s fantasies. Anything to keep her alive while they took their first steps away from the monster’s lair. “Let’s get out of here while we still can!”
Though Priscilla was usually light as a feather, Victoria’s own wounds were getting the better of her. Even killing a single Arachling they encountered on their way out took Victoria to the brink of collapse. Did I seriously think I could kill Amarantha and get away with it? Victoria thought and almost laughed at her foolishness.
Victoria tried not to look at the trapped girls that she passed. I can’t help them. I can’t help them, Victoria kept repeating. I can barely get myself and Priscilla out. And the way they are… They would probably resist, even if I was in any condition to help.
To betray your non-blood-related sisters in arms? How could she? Amarantha, you treacherous snake! Did you get what you want? Are you having fun as your reward for killing your friends?
Victoria’s blood was boiling. That fate is too good for that traitor! I should go back and cut off her head! But what about Priscilla? Do I take her with me? Would she be ready to join me?
“Light… There’s light up ahead,” Priscilla uttered weakly.
The voice of her dear friend snapped Victoria out of her delusions. She did not even notice how far she managed to walk while lost in her own fantasies. Her friend’s voice gave Victoria the strength to take the last steps outside Ararachni’s lair.
“Haaaah,” Victoria gasped and collapsed on the ground from overexertion. Her consciousness faded.
“Victora? Victoria!” Priscilla shouted, trying to shake her friend back to reality, not noticing that blood kept pouring from her own wound.
“Perhaps we can help?” Priscilla heard a man’s voice.
She looked up and through a haze saw two figures standing on the rocky terrain that surrounded Ararachni’s lair. A young man with short white hair and in purple robes slowly approached her. Timidly trailing just behind him, was a redhead in blue robes. That was when Priscilla's body finally gave out and she fell unconscious next to her Victoria.