Headed By A Snake 254 Divine Enchantress

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There was dust... so. much. dust.

Justus was laying on the hard ground, his entire body aching... winded from Duplicarius Zehr's tackle. The visored Duplicarius was... holding onto his ears? A rain of dirt covered his face and hair.

He shook Zehr off, spitting dirt, "Rena... is she...?"

"She's dead," Zehr stood up. "The plan continues. I'm going to rush--"

"No!!!" Justus got to his feet, shoving the Duplicarius away.

Rena can't die! That was impossible! He refused to believe it.

He ignored his aching legs, he cursed his burning lungs, and he rushed into the dust cloud.

Aghh! Powdered sand and debris filled his vision. He choked and sputtered from breathing it in. With tear-filled eyes, he struggled to find a sign of Rena. Getting down on his knees to crawl, he searched for her with his hands.

Blood. Everywhere. Wherever he placed his hands, he felt the sensation of syrupy dirt.

He patted something. It was Ren- it must have been.

As the dust began to clear, he embraced her fallen form, "RENA! Rena, it's me. It's me. Everything's going to be okay."

"Fool girl. You were safe, hidden behind cover," Zehr emerged through the dust like a demon, shrouded in the shadows.

Justus looked down at Rena's body.

Her left arm was... missing. Her blood flowed freely onto the dirt, pumping in spurts in time with her slowing heartbeat. Justus gripped onto the b.l.o.o.d.y remnant of her arm tightly, trying in vain to keep Rena's life essence from spilling out between his fingers.

The right side of her face was torn, a ma.s.s of red blood and flesh and what remained of an eye.

"J.. Justus... I can't see..." The girl whispered hoa.r.s.ely.

"Shh... Don't talk. Everything's going to be alright, Rena. Please. Just... stay with me." Justus pleaded.

The emotionless demon crossed his arms, "I apologize, Munifex Rena. I couldn't protect you from such a distance."

Justus held the dying girl close. Tears streamed down his face and anger welled in his heart.

He drew his sword, turning back to the Duplicarius, "Flame, TAKE you Zehr!! Do something!!! HEAL HER!!"

"Preposterous. Healing? Me? Take a look at her injuries, young man, and you'll see that she's not going to recover."

Flame take it all... Justus knew it in his heart that Rena was beyond saving. But... Zehr had done so many amazing things... He hoped... he grasped at the tiniest bit of hope that the Duplicarius would be able to save her...

Instead, Zehr saved him... Why was he worth saving and not her? Zehr had promised to save Rena. He promised...

"Is... is Zehr here? Did... he come to rescue me?" It was difficult understanding her slurred speech... the right side of her face was devastated.

Only the other half was able to smile. Her remaining eye had rolled back... a single sparkling tear left a streak in the dust covering her cheek.


Zehr hesitated... "Yes. You need to rest now, Rena."

"I... I can't rest," Rena admitted softly. "Not until... the creature..."

Justus placed his forehead against Rena's, "No... no more, Rena. Please stop talking. We'll fix you up. Save your energy."

A silvery glow began to emanate from below him.

Justus looked down to see that Rena had placed her remaining hand on his unsheathed sword... It glowed with a thick concentration of energy.

Enchantment.

But with that level of mana usage... No... NO!

"Rena, STOP!!!" Justus begged.

She was using the last of her life force to enchant his weapon.

Zehr knelt down beside him and Rena. He reached out and closed her eye, "Requiescat in Pacem, my young love."

With a b.l.o.o.d.y half-smile, Holy Bolter Rena fell limp in Justus' arms.

...

Frustration filled Tycondrius' heart. Dull clouds blotted out the sun overhead as a grim expression clouded his face.

He told her not to go.

And Justus was nigh useless in his mental state.

Though he could no longer entertain the girl's pa.s.sing fancy of a romantic relations.h.i.+p, he could fulfill her last wish. Her soul could rest after the creature's defeat.

He took one last look at the pitiful Deca.n.u.s and the crossbow archer. He had become truly fond of her. Maybe in another life, it would have been different.

La.s.so in hand, he sprinted towards the battle, eschewing his earlier stealth and cover...

"Duplicarius!!!" The Optio spotted him running and yelled to him, "This is a Gold-Rank beast! Don't be reckless!!"

Tycon groaned inwardly. It was good advice-- he just hadn't the patience to heed it.

Though the Manticore was surrounded, the Optio was struggling against its free-moving tail. The largest of its bone spikes were gone, but a direct hit would still break a Bronze-Rank's bones and severely injure the Iron-Rank Champion. Centurion Cyrac at the creature's front wasn't doing much better-- he couldn't land a solid attack, risking being eviscerated by the creature's claws.

Tycon skidded to a halt-- he was close enough. He began to whip his la.s.so around to build momentum, observing the Manticore's body.

He found his chance as it tensed its muscles to strike.

Tycon tossed the rope preemptively as it lifted its left paw-- he had it. He pulled the rope back, tightening its hold. Wrapping the length of rope around his arm for leverage, he grabbed hold and heaved back with his Iron-Rank physique. When the Manticore tried to swing its claw forward, its strike was slowed and weakened, allowing a surprised Centurion Cyrac to directly block with his s.h.i.+eld.

Tycon didn't have the patience to hide his strength-- nullifying a Manticore's claw with but a rope was not something a Bronze-Rank Warrior should be able to do. However, he doubted any of the Rhodoks were paying him much attention to him.

The white-bearded Centurion dashed underneath the Manticore's head. Keeping his s.h.i.+eld up, he drove a spear into the left underside of its chest.

The beast roared in pain, swinging its entire body around, whipping its tail. Cyrac was knocked back. A glancing blow to Sixtus' s.h.i.+eld sent him flying. Tycon dropped onto his hands and feet to dodge the swipe.

Getting to the kneeling, he put his hand on his sword, "⌈Shadowfang Strike.⌋"

Mana filled his body, accelerating his movement and blurring his form.

Tycon leapt onto the creature's side, he grabbed onto its fur as a disgusting handhold and vaulted up to mount its back. He still carried the bundle of rope over his shoulder. He whipped the rope around creature's head, hooking its mouth-- pulling it to prevent it from biting into another of the Munifices.

Exhaling with his effort, Tycon thrust the sword in his hand down into the Manticore's arrow-marked hide. He wrenched the blade and pulled it out, a fountain of blood spouting forth.

The creature roared once more, reared up, and flapped its wings. Tycon was thrown off, feeling the jarring sense of weightlessness for a scant few seconds... before cras.h.i.+ng upon the dirt. He rolled his body sideways with the momentum, tumbling through rocks and earning a few fragments of bone in his revealed flesh. He reached out a palm and his heel to slap against the roll.

Glancing to the side-- he noticed he had stopped himself from falling off the mountainside. That would have been inconvenient.

Lying on the ground, his arms and legs outstretched, Tycon stared up at the grey, cloudy sky. The creature was trying to fly away.

There was only one rope... He wanted two. He would have preferred four or five. But at least he caught its paw... and there was a loop around its throat.


Headed By A Snake 254 Divine Enchantress

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Headed By A Snake 254 Divine Enchantress summary

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