Hunt 30: Repercussions
During the time Emil is still in battle with Raya, Blair has safely descended down the lower hold. There is almost no light, giving her no sense of sight as she explores the wide deck alone. She is not sure whether there are some cargoes in the surroundings; she could barely see the floor she steps on yet she carries on walking forward. Calmly, she took a step one after another, and then from the nothingness covered by darkness flash of light illuminates the area for a second. It is so fast that she is unable to evade, a beam of light pierced cleanly through her unguarded body. She grunts, falling on her knees and groveling on the floor while clenching her stomach.
“That’s too careless of you, trespasser!” A hoarse voice echoes coming from the direction where the beam of light came from. “That’s what you get for acting all cool and great without paying attention to your surroundings when you’re inside enemy territory.” He continues.
Blair hears a few steps and a click, and then the lower deck starts to brighten up. “Now, you’ll be bathing on your own blo—huh?!!” He cuts his own speech. He is mystified when he sees Blair down crouching on a clean floor.
“Oh! Blood!” Blair shouts while standing up unhurt and without any wound. She makes a wide grin while scratching the back of her head. “I don’t have anything that could be used as blood. Damn, I thought this place will always be dark, my act won’t work with all this light.”
“Y-you… H-how are you fine?” He points at her with his shaking right hand. “W-why are you… Why d-don’t you have any w-wound on you?!! I swear that was a clean hit!” His eyes are wide open, his jaw is dropping while he stares at the girl who is supposed to be bathing in her own blood by now.
Blair frowns. “Don’t point at me like that… Like I’m some freak, you dumbass!” She cracks her knuckles and neck. She grew up in a village surrounded by mountains and forests, she played in the wilds when she was younger training her powers secretly. She knows what it means to wander around unguarded. She constantly turns her D-shift on and off in case of an attack. “And to think that I’ve decided to take note of your earlier advice; you’re totally rude aren’t you? Anyway, I’m looking for a sabercat. Do you know where he might be?”
The man gulps. “There’s no way I’m going to tell you that!” He barks. He pulls the gun from his right holster and points it at Blair. “This time I’ll make sure you DIE!!” He yells before pulling the trigger, releasing a beam of light.
Like laser that flashes for a moment, the beam simply passes through Blair’s body without injuring her. The laser hit the walls behind causing a small explosion. The burn mark on the steel wall is clear as the smoke disperses away. He is shocked; more doubts overcome his mind that is very confusing and eventually he panics. He shoot her continuously, every beam passes through the red-haired girl while she just stands in front of him looking bored.
“Hey, what’s that giant metal door behind you?” She asks ignoring all of the beams shooting through her body.
“Shut up! I’m not letting you through here!” He growls furiously as if losing his mind. The gun that he is using can amplify the power of his ki. However, this time, even though it clearly hits and pierces through the target, no damage is dealt. “Why? Aren’t you dying?!!”
His howls are louder than the small explosions that the beam makes. It seems that he has no other plan than storming his opponent with shots. In this case, he will eventually be exhausted while accomplishing nothing.
“You are somewhat annoying.” Blair says and then she jumps away from his range. “If you are not going to let me pass through, then I’ll have to force my way in.”
She runs towards the enemy with all her might, once again ignoring the rain of ki beams directed at her. With her speed, it does not take half a minute to reach the enemy’s spot. She clenches her right hand and stops in front of the man.
“Something like this isn’t possible!!!” He shouts denying the fact in front of him. His confusion has driven him unable to think and react properly.
“Clench your teeth.” She mumbles and then with full force she punches the man right in the face, throwing him back and slamming into the giant metal door. The crushing sound of the man’s body into the door echoes inside the enclosed space for a while. His body leans on the metal door while limping down. “Now… How do I open this thing?”
Before she can enter the giant door in front of her, she hears the door behind her open slowly like a heavy bulk of dense metal. “Wow,” a man’s voice rings from the direction. “I can’t believe you beat me into getting here.”
She spins around and then recognizes a familiar face. “Evan, it’s just you,” she lets out a heavy breath. “I thought I’ll be attacked by another enemy.”
“Let me help you there,” he offers while calmly walking towards Blair. He looks at the fallen opponent, observing what kind of surprise might be inside his pockets. “Hm… He’s not the resourceful type. Why is he assigned into guarding the final door? What a shame.”
“Right! So, I’ll go in now, you go find something that can open this so that I could get out with Q!” She shouts back and then she disappears as she slips through the door.
Evan shakes his head. “She never listens.” Then he looks into the door’s locks. He checks if he can open it neatly. He notices the unconscious man by the side and searches his body. It appears that the man will not be waking up until daybreak. “That girl, what did she do to knock this full grown man out?”
Blair successfully enters the last door. The other side is pitch black. She grasps around the walls to find the switch and turn on the lights. The sudden brightness blinds her for a moment then the interior became clear. It is nother empty space. There is only one cage on top of the table in the middle of the room. She walks cautiously towards the cage where Q is sleeping undisturbed. There might be some traps around; she needs to keep her guard up. Fortunately, nothing happened until she reaches the cage. She looks around her and still found nothing else. There are no keys nearby, and the cage is locked. She slips her hand through the bars of the cage and pats Q’s back to wake him up but he is not moving. Those catnappers might have drugged him to immobilize him until they reach wherever they are going. She is about the turn back to look for the keys when the door opened and then Evan goes in holding three cards.
Small magic circles glows as it appears and disappears over Azalea’s injured face. In this dimly lit surrounding, the faint light that comes from these circles is like a marker that pin points her location.
“I wasn’t informed about this change in plans.” A voice rings from the distance. The sound of his voice is muffled, it sounds mechanized. “I do not know how you stumbled in this place but one thing is for sure, I mustn’t let you leave.”
“This person’s tone…” Azalea thinks. “Does he know me?”
The enemy is keeping his distance. Considering that he is able to know where they are from that far and taking the mechanical sound of his voice into consideration, she concludes that he is wearing an advance helmet. One that provides night vision.
“Azalea!” Tristan shouts softly. “What’s happening?”
“Stay down on that side.” She answers.
If the enemy can see in this darkness, they could be easily targeted. She will be okay but Tristan is in danger. If he stays close to the opponent’s comrades, that might provide a little bit of protection.
“He won’t attack his own, would he?..”
Having an opponent that can see in the dark is not a disadvantage for Azalea. She has a passive spell called “Pulse.” It constantly sends waves of weak mana in her surroundings that functions like a radar. When these waves pass through things, it sends the information back to the source; it functions like an extended system of nerve cells. If something dangerous is ahead or coming, it serves as an early warning. The range of the spell is usually five meters radius but she can also extend it up to fifteen meters if she finds it necessary. She never relies alone on her eyes, she feels her surroundings. However, as much as it is useful, Pulse also has its drawbacks. It is a spell she can no longer shut off on her own, unless she is extremely exhausted. It keeps her half awake at night, continuously sensing and analyzing her environment without rest.
The enemy has not moved for a while. She cannot think of a reason why. Then again, she does not intend to wait for him. Azalea casts a speed up spell on herself. She dashes towards the enemy to see how he would respond. Her speed does not give the opponent enough time to prepare the same attack. She expects him to at least retaliate but he simply dodges her and then tumbles distancing himself away. She has prepared herself to either evade or defend from the man’s attack once he gains distance but nothing came next. The sudden burst of this inhuman speed damages her muscles so there may be a lag in her movements while it heals. This could have been a good chance for the opponent, but he just distanced himself and then he maintains a defensive fighting pose.
“He attacked us but he has no intention of fighting? No… there must be a catch.” She tells herself while looking at the enemy’s direction.
In the brief moment she got close to the opponent, Azalea is sure that she sensed two swords held by that man. It also seems that he is wearing military-grade high-tech armor; one that is light and durable. She takes a step forward, and then the enemy takes a step back.
“Huh-.. Why?” She pauses. Her alertness is doubled. She is sensing around her for any traps. “This distance… around five meters. This guy does not simply know who I am, he definitely knows a bit about my fighting style and abilities too.”
Still she cannot figure out what this opponent plans to do. She checks the suppressant gems on her hands, the cracks are getting larger. In this situation, it is inevitable that they will break soon. To avoid unnecessary damage and attracting more attention towards them, she must not use any explosive spells. Her wind-based spells are also out of the question, it will definitely turn out to be quite bloody. She has no intention of killing the opponent.
“Ah-” A sudden thought clicks at the back of her head. “He knows my ability. Is the reason he’s not fighting is because he knows he cannot defeat me?.. Alone, at least.” Azalea casts the speed up spell, the opponent takes notice. “He’s stalling! He’s expecting reinforcements. I have to quickly get over this so that we can leave!”
Before Azalea can take a step, the man shifts his sight towards Tristan’s direction. He points his sword at them.
“This bastard-!!” Azalea clicks her tongue while she changing her course.
He slashes a wave of ki that screeches as it slices through the floor. Azalea accelerates at full speed while making a stronger barrier to deflect the attack in a different direction. The flash of the colliding ki and barrier blinds them for a second. That time, without any warning, their enemy pops in front of her ready to cut her in half.
“Incinerate!” Azalea yells then a magic circle glows in front.
The man abruptly halts his dash almost losing balance. He uses the momentum of his fall to tumble and get away from the explosive fire that almost engulfed his whole body. After distancing himself, the ember glowing from the slightly burned right arm of his military armor marks his location. The smell of the burned cloth sticks in the air. He dodged just in time that the fire most likely did not reach his skin.
“Azalea!” Tristan’s voice trembles.
“Shhh-” She responds while standing guard in front. “Just think of protecting yourself for now. I beg you.”
Small magic circles appeared around her legs. The throbbing pain cause by the strain on her muscles is worse than before. This will take more time to heal.
“You… haven’t used any of your strong spells.” The mechanized voice takes their attention. The man stands gripping his swords tightly. “Is it because you can’t?”
“He’s observing me too.” Azalea tells herself. “I can see that the information he has about me is limited at that certain point.”
“You have always been bad when it comes to controlling your power.” He continues then he points at the people behind her. “You can’t fight at full strength with those hindrances around. You focused on offense; your defensive spells are in the beginner’s level. That’s why when your allies are in danger your first reaction is to cover for them yourself. You think you can always handle it no matter how strong the attack is, because of your superior healing spell.”
“I see,” she responds; her tone is cold. “From which group are you?”
“You have not met us before. I believe that I am not the right person to make the introductions.” He answers while keeping his defensive pose. “If you are that interested, then why don’t you drop this farce and switch to our side?”
“Haha-! I decline. Your taste in armor is gross, I feel offended.” The corners of her lips curl up, though her eyes are still lifeless and empty. Despite being playful in tone, her way of talking is sending shivers to those who listen.
All of a sudden, Azalea accelerates forward almost catching the enemy off guard. While accelerating she is able to hide from the enemy’s sight the ice-blade that she created. Still he shows no intention of underestimating her either. He blocks the ice-blade that covers Azalea’s right arm with his swords, and then proceeds to distance himself away. Without any rest, she continues to use the speed up spell quickly catching up to her opponent who barely has any time to prepare. She goes ahead to strike the inefficiently defended opponent. She knew that the swords will not be able to block her ice-blade in time, so she cancels the spell. The ice-blade diffused in the air as her right arm swings back. She opens her left palm while gaining the momentum forward.
“Absolute Freeze!” She casts another spell as her palm touches the opponent’s chest.
Ice burst out from her palm covering the enemy’s whole body. The room’s temperature rapidly drops. Sharp crystalized ice spreads freezing everything behind him. He looks like a body that has been suspended in mid-air. At the same time Azalea loses her balance and topples over, sliding on the frozen floor until she hits the wall.
“Was that too strong?” Azalea mumbles while lying down. She looks at the crystalized man as the smooth icy surface reflects the dim light around the room making it a little brighter. “It’s supposed to be a mid-tier spell.”
She tries getting up but since she forced herself to move in a speed that her regular muscles cannot handle, moving as of now is a struggle. The circles around her legs grew brighter. She notices that Tristan has started moving towards her so she pushes herself to at least sit up.
“Hey, are you okay?” Tristan asks while he comes rushing leaving the two gunmen cuffed behind. “Is he dead?”
Azalea forces a fake laugh. “He’s just frozen. The worst he’d get once the spell wears off is a fever and cold.”
Tristan narrows his eyes while looking at her. “Really?”
“Mhm.” She says regaining her usual cheery mask. “I’ll be fine so we have to leave here immediately. Look, my eye is back to normal too.”
Even though she is staggering, Azalea manages to stand up. After assuring that there is no threats close-by, they leave that room as fast as they could.
“That guy knew that I would cover for them that’s why he attacked them. He calculated the risk against the advantage he could get.” Azalea continues to evaluate the situation as they walk away. “He hid himself behind his own ki in order to get close and follow it up. What was he planning to do? It did not feel like he has any intention of killing me.”
Azalea keeps on pondering while they are slowly passing the hall towards a more open part of the ship. She is trying to recall different groups or organizations with certain influence that she might have pissed off in the past. The Shilan Clan’s influence and power is limited in Aesbyl. Furthermore, they should be busy on different matters right now, the more important stuff other than tracking her down. There is a feud with a certain laboratory in the past, however if those people are involved, they ought to know more about her power’s strengths and weaknesses. Considering how she faced them before, they would not be so reckless in their approach. Definitely not like this. If what that man said is true about not crossing paths with this organization before, then what do they want?
“Azalea, are you oky?” Tristan snaps her out of her thoughts.
“I told you I’ll be fine. Stop fussing-”
“But!” He cuts her speech off. He raises his voice while looking at her with bewildered expression. “You’re sweating… Umm…”
The look on his face puzzles Azalea. She touches the side of her face where she could feel the drop of her sweat sliding. She then recalls something that she has burried at the back of her mind. She wipes the sweat with her hand and then takes a look at it.
“The hell-…” She mumbles looking at the dark red stain on her hand.
The suppressant gems on her hands as well as the ones on her boots are broken; her bracelets cracked. She then notices some crimson droplets seeping out of her arms. Aside from the stain due to her eye being cut, there seems to be redder tint decorating her white clothes.
“I mean… y-you’re sweating blood.”
Support the artist
The Bewitched Demon Hunter
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission/consent by the author.