082 Encounters · 17

Encounters · 17
Deep Root Colony ~ Lower Levels
Early Autumn ~ Early Afternoon
Ancient mechanized halls bathed in green
Be it light or vegetation
Deep in the earth the abyss was as an overgrown grave
A killer of monsters versus a killer of man
Two reapers on the hunt at odds  

hatever is the matter Foreigner? You’ve grown distracted.”

Pan Mouser narrowed his eyes as he cautiously glared at Zhenir. The Foreigner within the black mechanized armor had leapt back and gazed into the abyss from the walkway he battled Pan upon. Lit by the glow of the embers from the corpses of countless monsters that fell during the battle between the two hunters, he appeared almost lifeless. The laughter that emitted from him was made that much more unsettling as a result.

“Hehehehehe… You are a most skilled swordsman, human, but as a hunter you are perhaps lacking. Or it is perhaps me who is lacking,”

“I’m afraid I do not follow. However…”

Pulling the hammer on the matchlock mechanism of his rifle, Pan allowed the gathering of Nectar that turned his weapon’s blade a luminescent blue. Changing from one combat stance to another, he carefully gauged his opponent. They had been battling for minutes and neither of them had struck a decisive blow. Whatever it was that distracted Zhenir seemed to provide the opportunity for Pan to deliver one himself, but he was not so naïve. A single mistake would cost him his life. Zhenir however seemed done with their battle.

“You do not follow human as you do not sense the Light, and as of now neither do I sense the Light of my prey. If she has left, then my time here is over. Killing a fellow hunter and rival, no less a meager Light Touched after competing for the same Child of Her Light would be shameful consolation. No human, our battle ends here, and we resume our hunt once more. I do hope you will entertain me again in the future. Hehehehehe…”

Before Pan could act, Zhenir fell off the walkway and into the abyss. Sprinting up to the edge, Pan swung his weapon and pulled the trigger, releasing the blue light as an arc of energy that descended into the abyss. He did not seem to strike anything and allowed himself to look over the edge carefully. His eyes narrowed a he saw nothing but the bottomless darkness of the abyss that Deep Root Colony was built into. There was no sign of the Foreigner, and even the green light had vanished, the interior of the abyss now lit by the distant midday sun. Looking up, he saw the Dolmen that Finch piloted scanning the abyss from where it clung to the abyssal wall. He guessed correctly that Finch was likely calling out for Chain and Maye, but could not figure what it was that made them begin to evacuate from the abyss.

“Could it be…? It would seem it is time for me to leave as well. Let us see what you have accomplished Lute.”

Turning his back on the abyss, Pan began the long walk back to the surface.

Deep Root Colony ~ Fire Blossom Forest
Early Autumn ~ Early Afternoon, Clear, temperate
A great nest illuminated by the glow of a Lucifalz
A sky under the Eyes of Icarus dominated by a Foreigner City
Clouds of monsters as far as the eye could see
A wyvern of wooden carapace and flaming body within
The sword of Darkness that drained color from the world  

“What is that

The question was on everyone’s minds, but it was Maye who at last expressed it. Watching the slithering darkness that extended into the sky ominously behind Chain who held it, it seemed impossible to believe what she held was a sword. Fortunately for the group however, Drop and Chain were the same person so she could provide the answer to the question that paralyzed them as they looked beyond the Lucifalz.

“It is the Beast, or the Foreigner infection that makes us a Sa·b·er. It is unlike any Foreigner beast we know of though, and the Nectar we draw from it when we open its Gate is not normal either. It is nothing like the Nectar found on the surface of Ambrosia that mankind and monsters both normally call on. It is something dark and filled with a song of such malice…”

“And that idiot has gone and summoned something like that. Whatever was she thinking?”

“Can she control it however?”

Lute found Squawk’s question unimportant as he watched the violent writhing of the Darkness that served as the blade of Chain’s sword. Drop’s answer surprised him though and made his eyes widen.

“We are in complete control. What you are witnessing is little more than the tip of the Beast’s tongue. To consume everything we intend to consume though, it is more than enough.”

“Exactly what type of Foreigner parasite infected her?”

Lute did not bother trying to disguise his horror as he looked upon the sword that Chain held that was growing rapidly as the wind around her swirled wildly. Watching her so closely, he did not miss the moment she launched herself forward at the Wyvern to meet its own charge. The monsters that filled the space around the Lucifalz like a cloud parted before the two combatants and unwittingly allowed the death of their master. Without having to worry about the monsters, Chain was able to focus entirely on her strike. Grateful for the size of the wyvern, Chain swung at an upward angle allowing her to not endanger the others with the massive blade of Darkness. Seeing the Darkness cut through the wyvern like air, the other were just as grateful for Chain’s choice of strike. But where Chain was pleased with the effects of her attack, the others were horrified. As the Darkness passed through the wyvern, the fire within simply disappeared, absorbed by the Darkness. The wooden carapace of the beast followed as it first crumbled into worthless chunks before being sucked into the Darkness as though it were being pulled into an inescapable void. There could be little doubt that the wyvern had indeed been consumed. But Chain had one more target to feed to her sword of Darkness and took flying strides towards it.

“I hope you liked the appetizer, cause now it’s time for the main course!”

Feeling enthusiastic, Chain wore a brilliant smile of pure joy as she wielded the power to silence the whispering of the Lucifalz. Kicking off of the ground into a twirling flip, Chain soared skyward using the monsters that filled the sky to push her ascent higher and higher. Her twirling and flipping ascent served more purpose than just to get above the Lucifalz, as the ever-growing blade of Darkness affixed to her sword cut massive swaths through the clouds of monsters, consuming all who drew too close. Chain was not perfect however, and she cut the branches of the tree many times during her ascent. The tree did not fall so easily to Chain’s sword though, and Drop, Maye, Squawk, and Lute remained safe behind its trunk. As Chain finally managed to reach a height above the Lucifalz to her satisfaction, her intent changed from simply killing any monster that she happened to as she climbed up into the air. Having reached the position from which she intended to attack, Chain shouted out as the Darkness became as a crackling bolt of lightning.

“Drop! NOW‼”

“Everyone might want to hold their breath.”

Between Chain’s shout and Drop’s warning, Maye, Squawk, and Lute were able to spot Chain above but could not focus on her as a sphere of water engulfed them. So high above, Chain could not see them through the luminous branches of the Lucifalz. She did not care to however as she could sense Drop’s preparations and raised her sword above her head, banishing the Foreigner city in the sky. Holding her sword so aloft, Chain smiled as she looked down on the Lucifalz from the peak of her ascent.

“And now it’s time for you to stop whispering, and me to leave. Hya~~~~~!!!!!”

Marking the beginning of her descent with a shout, Chain arched her back and built up as much tension in her muscles as she could. Then she released that tension and pulled her sword down with all of her might, the crackling bolt of Darkness arcing about to meet the Lucifalz. As it met the tree of Light, reality itself seemed to bend and the tip of the sword shot into the sky beyond the point of sight. But neither Chain or the Darkness relented, and as Chain screamed the bolt of Darkness grew thicker and wilder. All around the base of the tree, further bolts of Darkness erupted from the ground it was rooted in and stretched off into the sky in all directions. Speeding past the bolts of Darkness a large sphere of water raced up through the branches of the Lucifalz even as the bolts began to converge. The Lucifalz could not resist the Darkness any further and began to crack and splinter as gouts of flaming Darkness erupted from it. Those trapped in the sphere of water watched on in breath holding terror as the Lucifalz was consumed and the Ambrosial world along with it. They too seemed to be consumed by Darkness but the Darkness vanished in an instant as Chain was absorbed into the sphere of water and it shot well above the dust storm that raged outside of Deep Root Colony.

“Hold on… just a… little more…”

Drop strained to keep the sphere of water together as she lowered it to the ground. For all of her effort though, it was too much and she passed out, the sphere of water popping like a bubble. The screams released by Maye and Squawk were cut short as they hit the ground, which was much closer than they realized resulting in any injuries stemming from overreaction. Lute was much more reserved however and landed as though there was no difference regardless the height he fell from. As he did, he caught Chain, who was as unconscious as Drop who fell onto her bosom, in a princess carry, making sure to support her so that her head fell forward. Chain’s sword slipping from her grip and clattering on the ground drew Maye and Squawk’s attention to the fact that they were alive. After a moment of stunned revelry, they spun about to demand answers of what had just happened but froze as they were hushed by Lute.

“Shh~. It would seem she spent everything she had to pull that off. Even her cape has vanished along with the rest of that Darkness.”

- What did you do to Miss Chain -

Booming across the external speakers of her Dolmen, Finch’s voice revealed that they were not unnoticed in their return to the surface. As the motes of gold and red light that marked the location of the spirits that waited for Chain to defeat the Lucifalz and Ambrosial beast began to swirl around her, the dust storm vanished revealing the azure sky above. The azure sky was not all that was revealed as Finch’s Dolmen came into full view towering over the group, as well as the Chapel and the full contingent of nuns tasked with reclaiming the Light of the Lucifalz.

“Would you believe me if I say I simply helped make sure she made it out of there alive?”

It was not a lie, and it was the only question that would be answered at that time despite how many there were. The whereabouts of the Foreigner that had assailed those who had ventured into Deep Root Colony up until Chain arrived. What it was that Chain was possessed by and the nature of the Darkness that she wielded. And what would come next for the Chainmaid and her desire for adventure. All that would have to wait, as despite sleeping soundly in the arms of one of her hunters, Chain was safe surrounded by the nuns of the Chapel. She would be afforded the rest she had earned after traveling so far to rescue her childhood friend, Squawk, and could face whatever awaited her after.

Encounters · End
Chain’s adventures will continue…

Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater


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