Hunt 4: Al Duran
The mountain of Crosspatch in Dimatagpuan Region stands high in a land covered by forest. The nearest city is miles away which make it an ideal habitat for different animals and monsters. In this mountain, there is only one demon who is keeping its silence inside his designated territory which spans two kilometers radius around the swamp at the foot of the mountain. Al Duran, a twelve feet tall demon, used to hunt monsters around his territory, those who got lost and wondered inside his swamp of illusions. However, for the past month, reports of the demon’s exploration outside its designated territory around the swamp are being forwarded to the Hunters Council (HC). These worrying reports pushed the officials of HC to declare the demon as an “Impending Threat” to the nearby villages. The council then put ten million sols bounty on its head.
Mount Crosspatch has three nearby villages namely, Ainu Village in south-west direction, Harlawon Village further south of Ainu, and Magye Village around the south-eastern parts. Magye is the nearest village to Al Duran’s hide, making them the most vulnerable target to the demon once he decides that he wants to attack and absorb more mana from living organisms. The villagers are aware of their situation however small villages such as this rarely have enough strong hunters to protect them from the threat of the demons. Furthermore, most demon hunters wait for the bounty to reach its maximum price before setting out for a hunt. Although, that method also has its problems, the demon’s bounty increases if the threat it shows also increases. In some cases, the person with highest authority in the area hires a group of demon hunters to slay the threat for them. Adding more commission for the hunters along with the usual demon slaying rewards entices many, in which most hunters rarely decline. However, this method is also costly so the only ones who can afford this approach are the mayors or governors of the nearby bigger cities in the region.
Twenty first day of Triini’xahr, 4044 AOT.
Dimatagpuan Region, Mt. Crosspatch’s foot area
Now, Azalea, Zharyx, Lillian, Victor and Earl Spade are currently in the middle of crossing Al Duran’s territory to reach him at its core. They keep on walking deeper into the demon’s territory letting the thick fog swallow them whole. The air is tainted by a rancid smell like a neglected rotting kitchen waste stock by the corner of the street.
“We’re almost there.” Zharyx announces leading the way. “Keep your guards up.”
“This place stinks.” Earl Spade complains while looking around. “It’s getting more and more gross as we get closer. Can’t we just blow it away now?”
“Don’t get too excited. We’ll get there soon.” Azalea responds and then she casts a spell on them to boost the resistance of their clothes from external damage.
They gaze at the cloudy view in front of them. The fog embraces the trees like a blanket. The ground continuously becomes softer like a large mass of cotton pulling their feet down rooting them deeper into the earth in every step. Every step sinks into the mud that as if the whole area is entombing them little by little.
Azalea stops, stretching her right hand to the side. Her staff floats close by following her every move. Everyone ceases their movement as she goes ahead. “Zharyx, stand back and cast Gaia’s Eye. We will start the mission here.”
“Okay.” He nods stepping aside. He moves his hands forward then a single magic circle glittered around it, “Gaia’s Eyes,” he whispers. The magic circle falls down the ground releasing several glowing disks that surge the area like ripples of a disturbed lake.
“Fireball.” Azalea calls a spell and then a round blazing flame forms in front of her. “Power-up!” She raises her voice softly and then repeats the same spell several times. She casts multiple power-up spells on the fireball making it grow hotter and bigger each time.
“Is she serious?” Earl Spade’s jaw drops. “Multiple overlapping spells focused on a single point, that’s not that easy to make.” He panics. “Won’t it explode right in front of us?!”
“I know it’s difficult to cast higher-tier magic. But this…” Victor says while watching Azalea continuously cast power-up spells.
“Hey, hey, hey, come on. If she loses her concentration, it might explode here and now.” Earl Spade continues to panic; his speech shakes.
Lillian taps Victor and Earl Spade’s shoulders. “Don’t worry, I’m here. Let’s just keep the right distance. Focus on the plan and don’t let your guard down.”
After a couple of minutes, the ordinary fireball grew into a massive sphere. Despite their distance and the increased resistance of their clothes, they can still feel the scorching heat coming from it.
“Compress!” Azalea casts another spell and then repeats. A number of single magic circles formed around the giant red sphere, forcefully shrinking it down.
“There’s more?! This is insane.” Earl Spade mutters.
A loud roar echoed, shaking every bone in their body. Azalea did not flinch focusing on the spell she is casting.
“We need a bit more time!” Zharyx raises his voice. “Spade, make a distraction somewhere else.”
Earl Spade summons his yashou, Spirha. “Alright Spirha, go and noisily run around!”
A glowing horned white horse starts to materialize beside Earl Spade. It looks like a mighty stallion standing in the middle of a foggy marsh. It stamped its feet walking around before jolting away.
“Hey, you know, you’re quite useless, but don’t let your unicorn die.” Azalea teasingly says while keeping the over-powered compressed fireball afloat the palm of her hand.
“Damn mage sprout!” He screams silently as Spirha runs out of sight. “Concentrate on your own role! And I don’t need you to tell me something that obvious!”
“Vic, prepare to charge in.” Zharyx takes command. “Yan, be alert and set up the barrier after Azalea’s attack. Spade, don’t forget to call back Spirha into its dormant mode.”
“No problem.” Lillian answered fixing her eyes on Azalea’s back. Now, the giant ball of fire is reduced to a small red tennis ball.
“Where is he?!” Azalea asks with a menacing smile on her face.
Zharyx focuses on feeling the presence of the demon. “Slowly walking… one o’clock right ahead.”
Azalea moves a step to the side. She stands in a pitcher’s pose. “Eat this Al Duran. Druckflamme!!!” She grins like a little kid as she throws it.
The little ball of red flare storms into the fog, leaving a drilling mark into that cloudy sight upfront. Lillian then splits their spot from the rest of the world with her Dimension Lock. Then, a thundering explosion follows. The air violently whirls around blowing everything away while a blizzard of chaotic flame sets the surroundings on fire. The twirling gust of scorching wind blows the thick fog away while it burns the surrounding plants and trees into brittle hard charcoals.
The barrier that Lillian made protects them from the damage of Azalea’s Druckflamme. Being separated from the outside world, they heard nothing, felt nothing, sensed nothing, all the while such destruction overrun the surrounding area. All they can do is be overwhelmed by the sight of how destructive the magic casted by this young mage can be. Meanwhile, she only smiles calmly in the face of such tremendous power.
“This is… low-tier magic..?” Zharyx mumbles.
“Lillian, you may lift the barrier now.” Azalea says then her staff floats closer enabling her to grab it. She is preparing for another spell. “I will blow the wind surrounding us.”
Lillian fixes her eyes in front and nods.
Once Lillian removes the barrier, Victor immediately runs towards the direction of the shadow of a gigantic creature clad in an armor of silver and red. The demon of Crosspatch, Al Duran, is now slightly visible. Azalea then calls another low-tier wind magic. Then, a burst of wind blows the dark accumulation of fog that is left around them. Without any second thought, as soon as the area is clear, Lillian then hastily returns the barrier back around them.
“Keep yourselves alert to assist Vic!” Zharyx shouts to get their attention and to remind them of the phases of their plan.
“Alright!” Lillian and Earl Spade answers bracing themselves.
Victor needs to be outside the barrier to be able to use his skill. Meanwhile, everyone else needs to be inside Lillian’s barrier while Victor attacks, else they will get caught in its way. Sonic Rage affects everyone within the twenty meters around Victor. If they are not careful, they will be the one coughing blood instead of the demon.
On the other hand, Azalea moved her right arm forward, making a gun-like form from her hand. Three over-lapping magic circles starts to form around her finger, one after another.
Victor gets close to Al Duran enough for him to clearly see the severity of the damage that Druckflamme left on the demon’s body. The demon growled angrily and painfully while grayish smoke rise from his extremely charred right arm. It is no longer useable and that put Victor into the advantage. He rapidly activates his Sonic Rage and then jumps towards the demon’s chest. He pulls his arms back, folding his elbows with both knuckles closed, and then he briskly stretched them forward pushing powerfully in front. His palms are few inches away from Al Duran’s armored chest.
“SONIC RAGE!!!” He shouts with all his might.
Invisible sound waves by-passing Al Duran’s armor ram into its insides producing cavities that ruptured its defenseless organs. The demon again made an explosive roar as he absorbed all the pain of Victor’s attack. Huge amount of blood gushed out of its mouth, eyes and wounds putting him in greater suffering. Victor landed about three feet away from the standpoint of the demon who clenched its fist in pure anger, wanting to crush every living thing around him. The aggressive demon threw a punch at him which he was able to dodge smoothly. The muddy soil of the scorched swamp splashed in front of him so he hurriedly jumped backwards to retreat. Even the boiling mud around them could be dangerous once it touches their skin.
While Victor retreats, Lillian removes the barrier and waits for him to get back. Around this moment, Azalea is almost done with her next spell. Unfortunately, before Victor gets back, Al Duran launches his projectiles, Bullet Stones targeting the only group of people in the distance. These projectiles are stones shaped like long rods with sharpened tip -- 25 centimeters in length and 75 millimeters in circumference. It could pierce through metals. Because of this sudden attack while Victor is on his way back, Lillian is not able to prepare the dimension lock in time.
“Oh no--!! ZHARYX!!!” Victor shouts as he turns his head back at his friends.
They are stunned with their eyes wide open staring at the infuriated demon casting its attack. It is like all movements are suddenly set into slow motion. The bullet stones rain on them. Lacking in experience, even though they are very skilled, their reaction time is delayed to a certain extent where they are unable to evade the upcoming calamity. They know what to do but their limbs suddenly feels heavy making their movements slow.
“No wa—DODGE!!!” Earl Spade shouts in panic. He jumps backwards while crossing his arms protecting his head and vitals.
Azalea instinctively cancels her attack spell to switch it with a defensive spell of overlapping magical shields. However, defense magic is not her specialty. With a hastily prepared spell, it produced an unbalanced line of defense enabling the bullet stones to pierce through them easily.
“This is bad! Lillian-!!” She grinds her teeth. She turns her head towards her companions behind her.
“EVERYONE, GET DOWN!!!” Zharyx directs but it is already too late, one projectile pierced through his left arm. He slips on the ground.
The bullet stone which is composed of fifteen to twenty pieces of projectiles rapidly rain down on them. Lillian just happens to be in a vulnerable spot. Azalea lets go of her staff and jumps in to protect her from the raining bullets. She pushes her away and got hit by one projectile on her right shoulder. They both fall on the ground while bullet stones continues to rain around them.
Then everything becomes silent again.
Earl Spade stands up with a few bruises. “Are you guys alright?!!” He hurriedly looks for his comrades. His face is filled with horror as he looks around to confirm their situation.
“Azalea! Azalea!” Lillian cries while wrapping her arms around Azalea’s body. She looks horrified staring that the piece of sharpened stone piercing through Azalea’s shoulder. “Earl Spade, Azalea is wounded!”
“Hold on, I’m into it.” He replies immediately while summoning Spirha again. He notices several magic circles that simultaneously appears and disappears around the area where Azalea is wounded.
“W-wait.” Azalea’s soft shaking voice alerts them while she tries to sit up properly. Her staff stays floating close by. “Zharyx needs more attention compare to me right now.” She coughs.
They turn their eyes at Zharyx lying down not far beside them. There is a projectile buried through his left arm while he is using his right hand to force himself up. They thought it is just a wound far from the vitals until they notice the heavy flow of blood coming from his stomach pouring into the marshy ground.
Illustrations of the demon "Al Duran"
The location of the Demon's territory
Mountain of Crosspatch in Dimatagpuan Region
-> Ainu Village in south-west
-> Harlawon Village further south of Ainu
-> Magye Village around the south-eastern parts
-> Ainu Village in south-west
-> Harlawon Village further south of Ainu
-> Magye Village around the south-eastern parts
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.