Their element was on another level. The control I exerted over the environment tore away. Outcropping bursting into my stomach, stripping the air from my lungs and driving strength from my torso.
My arms buzzed from the numbing surplus of energy and I hurtled across the forest.
Rising haphazardly to my feet, the assailant I saw was powerful and resolute.
The demon in me snarled, ‘I can take this. I can take anything given the chance.’
But I couldn’t afford such indifference here. For once, I saw another soul in the line of fire. The camp was a matter of strides from a creature who could shape the very foundation they stood on.
It wasn’t just my life I was working with.
A stale calm poured into my veins. Gritty like rough stones, with the bitter taste of remorse. Now was not the time to hesitate though.
I had the low ground, facing a powerful opponent and without one of my key advantages.
‘I can’t afford to forsake them here!’
The demon spoke sternly, ‘devour them then’
Wrap them in my presence. Latch on to danger. Convert it into something they can handle. Nurture, heal, galvanize, purge.
My aura converged with a single minded intent. It thundered with a pressure beyond what air alone could handle, and the crux was intense enough to cut metal.
‘I could strike first with this.’ But that wouldn’t be enough to save everyone. Rather than the assailant, I thrust a needle of light into the ground, shifting my aura to address and accumulate that of the land.
I felt the impact of the earth intimately. The geomancer, so clearly, I could feel the tension in their face. The spirits they commanded. The orders they had, the ones they were told to pursue.
I could feel the familiars. My allies’ as well. The sleeping giants, the stun locked skills. The rallying cry that had gone unheard.
‘Resonate. Heed their souls. They will protect you, give you strength against the intrusion. In return, I will vanquish all doubt. You will not fall blindly today.’
I let these intent fly on a wave of passion. Cleaving through the forest and dismay. Restoring confidence in their abilities.
The geomancer’s first move on the camp was to suppress them. To scatter their supplies and pin the uncertainty to them.
A tongue of earth lashed out at the perimeter, ripping through the roots of beaten grass, loosing stakes and collapsing tents. All the while hemming the team in with an earthen barrier.
The first thing I did was excite the roots. I had them mimic hibernation and proliferation in quick succession. Reacting to the soil as free space, vital nutrients. Especially tough and convoluted as well.
The flora ate through the technique's flexibility, prying the mana out of it and slowing it down.
The geomancer compensated for this quickly, but one of my allies was also sensitive to the nature spirits.
While less intuitively so than if it was a familiar, that archer felt the tide shifting and made the most of it. Drawing a blade they braced against the earth and pulled into formation.
The others were quick to follow, albeit warily. The fallen tents left them feeling exposed. While the earthen wall might be considered defensible, It wasn’t apparent to them what the geomancer was trying to do.
They were isolated, but better prepared now. All they needed now was an edge.
The pressure formed from my aura gradually wove its way through the environment. Eventually finding its way back to the group. On its way earthy minerals and resin mixed with it, reached the campsite, and began to capture additional heat. A dim glow formed overhead, trails of unburned flame expressed under tension.
Their mage notice it from the get go. A backlash roared to life about their staff, bounding forward toward the nearest open air, through a tunnel formed of their aura.
There was more ambient fire mana then there should have been available, and the fireball was significantly faster for it. The geomancer reacted in time to dispel it, but enough for the shockwave that came with it.
The forest jittered as their connection to the earth wall stuttered, revealing their cause. Suddenly, the imagined presence of a raid party vanished, and the group retaliated with the full extent of their abilities.
The Geomancer had been after me. Had undermined their bearings to lay a cheap but effective trap, and slip away in the confusion. It wasn’t so cheap, nor was it looking to become effective.
I was still out here. Doubling down on the anchoring shaft, I pooled my intent and amplified my presence. To those that could perceive Qi, The amount around me had tripled, coming alive with an archaic detachment.