Creating the spell took nearly the entire time that we were moving towards the next town. The amount of detail required in it was something that was hard to properly understand without experiencing it firsthand. Take the sonic roar for instance. In the memories I received, I had to study sound so that I could envision how various vibrations could cluster together to strike a target in order to break it apart. The more in-depth the understanding of the underlying principles behind a spell, the less mana it cost for the same power output.
While this spell wasn't going to be as difficult, it would still be troublesome. I needed to imagine the heat of the spell, its range, and things of that nature. By the time that I had finished, I felt Kaneda nudging my back, pulling my attention away from what I had been doing. We could hear a distant, feminine scream of pain, and our eyes widened.
A scream meant a survivor. I glanced back to Kaneda, who nodded her head and stood up. She seemed to be able to balance quite well on the back of the charging lion, crouching down and jumping high into the air. A black shadow swept over us as Genevieve flew by in its larger form to catch Kaneda.
Let’s hurry, Griffith. I whispered mentally, activating another spell. Flames surged around Griffith’s feet, his speed increasing as we ran along the road. We couldn’t move faster than Genevieve, but we were still able to get there in time to help.
The enemy this time was clearly another amalgam, a giant of a man with gray, thick skin and wide ears, an elongated snout that formed a trunk. Every step he took sent tremors through the ground. When we got there, Kaneda had Genevieve back in her bow form, but was being far more acrobatic an archer than she had in the previous battle.
Ducking and weaving through the large opponent’s slow movements, she kept herself fairly close to his body. Arrows appeared every time she plucked at her bowstring, digging into the target. With each one that hit, he let out a fresh roar of pain, his anger rising higher and higher.
This amalgam didn’t seem as lucid as the one that Kaneda and I had fought previously. He seemed to be doing little more than throwing his weight around, triggering the same spell again and again to cause the ground to shake beneath him. Which… honestly made him the best possible target for someone like Kaneda.
You help her. I whispered mentally to Griffith. But be careful. I’m going to see if I can find whoever that was screaming before.
Griffith nodded his head as I jumped off of his back, scanning my surroundings. Without Griffith’s help, I didn’t have any magical abilities at my disposal, and could only focus my ki on my ears, closing my eyes. Sure enough, I could hear a faint, pained whimper from nearby, beneath a collapsed building.
My ki was certainly not my strong suit, but it was enough for basic tasks. As such, once I heard the voice, I immediately raced in that direction. Once I had come to what looked to be the remains of an old store, I channeled my ki into my arms to begin moving the rubble out of the way.
It didn’t take me long before I heard a gasp from beneath me as the rocks shifted, letting me know that I was getting close. “Try to relax and stay still. I’m almost to you.”
A few more pieces, and I was able to see the person I had been trying to rescue. A young girl, a head of auburn hair just down to her shoulders, with bright red eyes. She was lying on her back, her arms spread out to her sides. They had been pinned under the debris, but it looked like she was lucky, and nothing was visibly broken. At least… nothing physical.
There was a heart-broken look in her eyes, a distinct emptiness that glazed them over. This was a different kind of look from just losing a loved one. She had lost a part of her own soul. She had lost her familiar.
And as I looked at her, her image seemed to blur for just a moment, as if the shadow of another figure overlapped her. A figure I was all too familiar with. Aurivy’s form faded away, leaving her once again as the heartbroken girl. Only the sorrow seemed to have slightly faded from her eyes. The utter brokenness filled in by the new mind, which hadn’t personally experienced that.
But the sorrow was still there. And with her mind able to focus more clearly now, her tears began to flow freely. “It’s okay.” I whispered, leaning down to press my fingers against various points of her body, injecting just enough ki to look for any fractures or internal injuries.
Once I had determined that the system wasn’t cruel enough to put her in a truly crippled character, I reached down and scooped her up in my arms. She turned, wrapping her arms around my shoulders and burying her face against my chest, continuing to sob loudly.
Turning back to face the battle, I saw that things were going fairly slow. Dozens of arrows were jabbed into the giant amalgam, yet it did not go down. Its skin seemed so thick that the arrows weren’t able to do any true damage. Unfortunately, she had thoroughly drawn the ire of the creature, making it impossible for her to charge up her piercing arrow.
On the other hand, Griffith wasn’t agile enough to get in and out safely, and seemed to have already taken a couple of nasty blows. His body sagged to the side as he limped with every step, but refused to completely back down. However, it was clear that getting hit any more would mean that he would perish as well.
Think. Neither of us specialize in cleansing spells, so we can’t remove the curse. Kaneda is the only one with the piercing power to get through his natural armor, but he is so focused on her that she can’t activate any of those spells.
“Kaneda, fall back!” I shouted, before focusing on Griffith. He realized what I was doing and nodded his head solemnly, taking a step forward. The sonic roar only properly breaks down certain materials like wood, glass, and stone. However, it is also capable of causing internal damage to a living creature.
As Griffith let out his roar, the giant amalgam froze in place. As Kaneda retreated, he stumbled back, the ground quaking beneath him. I could see Kaneda taking her stance, preparing her piercing arrow, so now it was a matter of buying time.
Don’t try to be a hero, Griffith. Focus on avoiding his attacks. At times like this, I could only wish that I had a healing spell saved. Griffith’s speed was highly impacted by his injuries, so he could only try to limp away as the amalgam rushed towards him, trying to trample all over the lion.
I mentally apologized for the damage this would cause, before activating the charge spell. Griffith’s body began to glow brilliantly before he surged forward, just out of range of the amalgam’s large hand. Still, the wind pressure swept him away a few meters, leaving him to tumble and roll.
As if realizing that the lion was little more than cornered prey, the amalgam began to approach more slowly, taunting it with every step. It was both terrifying and reassuring at the same time, for it allowed Kaneda all the time she needed to finish her incantation, firing off her arrow.
A thin, black drill seemed to pierce through the creature’s back, flying out through his chest and causing him to pause, staring down at the gaping wound. He turned, staggering, looking like he was about to charge at Kaneda again. However, with a loud crash, he instead fell to the ground.
Defeated the Elephant Amalgam and rescued the New Player. Players Irena and Dale awarded five hundred points each. Player Aurivy has now been activated. Terra’s voice spoke, indicating yet another sizable deposit for our account.
Kaneda didn’t waste any time, tossing her bow up and allowing it to return to its eagle form as she rushed forward. “How is she?” She asked, concerned while looking over the girl in my arms. Her clothes were torn and tattered, clearly damaged in the previous battle.
“She lost her familiar.” I whispered, earning another powerful sob, and a small gasp from Kaneda. “Otherwise, she seems in good health.”
Kaneda pursed her lips, nodding as she fell into thought. “We should stop here for now. We took too long getting here… any other attacks would have ended by the time we reach the next city, and we can’t leave her here.”
I had to agree with her. Even disregarding the fact that this was Aurivy, who no doubt only joined so that she could play with us, we couldn’t leave a defenseless and traumatized child alone after such an attack. And we certainly couldn’t bring her with us, into the battlefield.
“I don’t think Griffith would be able to handle another run right now, anyways.” I muttered, passing the girl to Kaneda before moving over to check on the lion. “How you doing, big guy?”
Did we win? His mental voice sounded dry, and I could tell that he was hurting. Even if he held the pain back from the link, not wanting to share it with me, it was clear just from looking at his sorry state.
“Yeah, we won, Griffith. We’re going to rest here for the night, so get some sleep. I’ll focus on helping you recover your injuries in the meantime.” As I said that, I moved to sit next to Griffith, keeping my breathing steady while placing my hands on his side.
I could feel Griffith gradually falling unconscious, my ki filling his body. Like I had done with the girl before, I now sought to identify any of Griffith’s internal injuries. Sadly, his condition was far more troublesome. His front right leg was fractured, he had three broken ribs. Aside from that, he was bruised inside and out, and would need time to heal.
With the injuries identified, I began to focus on mending. Even without healing spells, it was possible to use ki to the same effect, with the proper understanding of biology. Thankfully, Slyris was familiar with Griffith’s physiology, having trained for cases where field treatment like this was needed.
After a few minutes passed, I could hear a shifting next to me, Kaneda moving to sit down. The girl in her arms had gone quiet, simply shuddering every so often in her sleep. “She said her name is Lyra.” Kaneda whispered, not wanting to disturb Lyra’s slumber.
I gave a small nod at that, confirming that I understood. However, my attention was focused entirely on healing as many of Griffith’s injuries as I could. Only when my ki ran dry did I stop, bringing my hands up and off of the lion.
“There had to be a cause to all of this.” I pointed out, clenching my fists a few times after holding them still for so long. “If every city nearby was hit by amalgams at once… and that first one, Griffith said he had been cursed.”
“An organization?” Kaneda questioned, causing me to nod again. “It’s possible. I don’t remember anyone that would fit the description of being able to do that, however. So, they must be new.”
Unfortunately, my memories held the same result. If there was an organization that had done this, then it was either someone new, or an old group that had branched out onto a dark path. “It would help if they left some clues. A logo, a calling card, any kind of hint. Don’t terrorists love to claim credit?”
Kaneda simply shook her head. “They probably didn’t expect anyone to be left alive to see their claim to fame. If they are making themselves known, it will be to another area, perhaps the palace. If we want answers, we’ll have to start there… and they’ll likely need our help.”