Chapter Seventy-Three
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As I look up towards the most prominent creature floating above, I give a quick glance back to the one laying on the floor, looking at the individual that I had slashed before so that my brother could escape, with his upper body and little horns still intact, reality downing on me fast.

My mind was trying to deny it, but it was crystal clear to me what was happening here.

All because of that pair of horns on the head of the creature floating above us.

I could recognize those anywhere, anytime; the ones from my childhood, the one belonging to the first kind creature I met beyond my own family, the one that taught me one of the most important skills, the one who presented me to my mentor, the one who lead me to learn the voice of the night.

The white kind snow deer, Elfihe.

And now… the only trace of him left was the gigantic branch white horns growing on his head; the rest was deformed beyond recognition.

Over his black complexion a pair of shining circular orbs glinted in replacement of his kind eyes, resembling a black hole, sucking all the light around it and making difficult to look away from those white orbs shinning against a dark background.

Yet I could still see far more from his body than needed to make me distress with the vision.

It was as if he had stayed in a half middle form, looking like a deer centaur, only that the lower animal part wasn’t fused like a centaur, but instead there was a deer head in front the front, the humanoid torso erupting from the middle of the deer’s back.

But worst of all was that, looking more carefully into the mass, one could see faces, horrified expressions that eerily disappeared into the black mass only to come back out once more, like a black river of vines stretching into faces and forming the body, adding that his deer face was stretched backward in a way that fused it with its neck and the faces surrounding it, one single eye wide in my direction, locked in that position.

That sends a shiver down my spine, even worst at the perspective that… that those faces could really belong to someone.

And I had my doubts about who they were for the quantity and for the other deer horned creature that I had faced before… I feel a bitter taste in my mouth, a heavyweight in my heart that makes me uncomfortable with the current predicament.

In front of Leo a similar menacing creature appears, overall with a rather humanoid body if it wasn’t from how tall it was, the clawed shadow hands and the armor that seemed to be fused in its body, only a pair of bright white eyes shining through the M shaped opening of the helmet.

The silver plates shone amidst his dark misty body, making him have a rather intimidating aura surrounding him.

They advanced with confident steps, clearly in another level from those we fought until now, even more when I look behind them, expecting to see the same string types attached to their backs, only to find a single one connecting each, but so thick and tough that it looked like an artery pumping is goopy essence into both.

Elfihe once-majestic figure looked corrupted and instead of the purity and celestial aura he had, now he seems to bring catastrophe and pain with him, the once white pure snowflakes that followed his moves now black and goopy like slime, and instead of falling from the sky it actually came from the ground, up like an upside-down drip of water, defying gravity by floating midair around him.

His clawed hoof stops moving, craving in the soil as those black spots stop their smooth movements in a rigid manner, somehow pointing at me and shooting out in my direction like bullets, barely giving me enough time to dodge.

The small dots that resemble sharp snowflakes changes into spikes, some still small attacking together, combining the shapes and speeds, making it rain projects in my direction.

I avoid using my MP and magic yet, all too aware from fighting for so long with my psyches that any magical attack was my last resort against a real treat, wanting to learn his patterns first before tiring myself out.

So I twisted, crouched, sidestepped all his rage attacks, sometimes letting a fan of black fire out, covering a big part of the garden and making any of the weaker sneaky enemies fall back or end burning up, as well as melting the projectiles that the deer threw at me, proving that, at least, his element was still the same, ice.

I manage to have a glimpse of Leonel’s fight, seeing that the knight had pulled out a long sword that seemed to have a green aura over it, like the vapor coming from something hot. But green?

Better not have that touching you, not worth knowing what it does first hand like that.

Leo, smartly, was keeping his distance, seemly that the knight was specialized in close-in combat. With his light and wind elements, plus his knowledge about runes, Leonel could attack him with Wind Blades and blind the knight with a Ball of Light if he got too close and tried to attack.

I scream at Leonel, barely able to see his sharp gaze and cold expression as he focused on the battle as I dodge to the side and land on the back of one of the lower creatures, smashing its strings with my claws.

“Weak spot over the back!” I wish I could say more but these creatures, in an undead way, did not tire themselves and keep coming with their attacks, making me only hope that he understood as I focus my attention on the deer once more, seeing a goopy long lace grown on his hand.

He hardens his grip on the lance and dashes forward, his massive deer-human body having the speed and strength on his side, definitely deadly blow on the tip of the sharp crystal-ice black lance.

But…

Unfortunately for him, I was the one specialized in close combat here.

Because of his speed his blow wasn’t very accurate and his path predictable, making it easy for me to dodge and roll, putting my claws out and hitting his front deer legs in the process, not enough to severe the limb but enough to make him lose the momentum, tripping and falling on the ground, his knees digging into the soil.

And, with him behind me, his body ended up covered in my own shadow, which was a big, big mistake on his part; and a calculated one from my part.

Like a marine monster emerging from my shadow long black tentacles rise from the ground, making him lower his body even more into other tentacles, all coiling over him like snakes and trapping him in a deadly embrace.

A confident smile curves my lips up, but is soon replaced with a scoff as the dead white eyes from the creature stared unblinking at me, a dreadful sensation growing within me for seeing such a longtime friend lost in that state.

I could clearly see his suffering, even if his eyes were hollow, even if the vine faces could only silently scream, I could feel his distress, almost like something palpable in the air.

~]2s9]O8R[@r%#y&[email protected]$v6&e!2rY%[email protected]#o)(d{^Y{

I barely have enough time to discern some words between the corrupted information when a stronger pulse comes from the thick string on his back, making his body twitch and trash hard against the bindings, almost like an electric shock as he, unconcerned with matters of pain, twists and turns in odd angles, hooves high in the air.

Somehow he manages to escape by freezing my Shadow Tentacles with the glassy-black ice covering them and breaking into pieces, almost mixing with my shadows and only appearing when the light hits it, making it glint.

How the heck did he freeze my shadows?! Though I won’t question the logic behind my shadows being able to hold him down or anything…

Once he frees himself he starts wiggling, trying to stand once more with its deformed body, his full height surpassing mine with more than 3 heads worth.

Seeing him use magic in such a way, and being that close to me, I start to get a little more serious as I make two Bolo Machetes appear in my hands, their blades and handle completely black with only a silver line on the edge of the blade, shining like obsidian, made from my own shadow, using my claws as blades.

They were not long yet had a wider blade on the tip, making it perfect for quick slashes and moves, even more when I had two blades at my disposal.

That’s why I turn my body backward in a twisting motion, making my blade gain velocity as it cut the humanoid torso that, as if being held by vines, had the back part still attached to the rest of the body with barely any strings-black vines holding it in place.

I take the opportunity at hand and dash forward, and as he continues to stand I put both blades together, the knife-edge parallel to each other and, like twin blades they swing together with my arms, my body working together to hit with maximum cutting power, both sharp blades wounding with easy the black vine misty substance, destroying the deer neck and making some goop fly up my face and glue on my hair.

All in a matter of seconds.

As if unaffected by the loss of a limb his hand swings midair, at the same time that a black crystal-like ice appears like a blade on his hand, making me move my torso back as the blade make a clear shallow cut on my cheek since I turned my face to protect the crystal in my forehead, the cut barely deep enough to draw blood, not going further only because the creature did not have enough time to make the blade bigger.

I jump backward, giving me time to assert the situation as my machete twist and swings in the air for the creatures that were waiting for me to dodge back, adding to the carpet of goop that was forming on the garden.

I silver afterimage followed my blade movements as it twisted and turned midair, is deadly edge cutting and slashing, until they realize that the plan of trying to tire me out wasn’t working since I had a very high SP, in contrast to my MP, only making their number dwelled as they finally fall back.

With quick breathing I look back to the deer only in time to see him throwing his spear at me, but even amidst the chaos of the other creatures attacking I manage to block it with my machete, which seems to infuriate whatever was commanding these creatures.

At this point I knew I had learned and understood enough of our current predicament to end the fight, of how someone must be controlling them all at once to have them attack in such a coordinated way, and how it cost for him to move and use the magic of his stronger puppets.

Of how he seemed to corrupt creatures into his mindless puppets, of how he used them as paws on his sick chest game.

I had learned enough of the puppeteer at this point… enough to be really, really angry at him and his ways.

It was time to get a little more… serious.

~~~~

Author Note:

Best melee WEAPON to use with SUPER SPEED? FANTASY RE-ARMED - Shadiversity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnm6iOqTfjY

Helped me decide which blade type to give him, plus I love his channel, from a writer to another!

TAPAS is going to have an Inks giving event 11/22- 11/24, so make sure to have your inks prepared! I’m accumulating as well to participate and give to other authors, and in reward for you guys I’ll probably have a double update ready if we reach the milestone!

(You can earn ink by watching adds on the app for free!)

See ya next Friday! ☆=(ゝω・)/

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