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Chapter Twenty-One - The Twelfth Match (Part 4)
Kumo’s eyes glowed with an abyssal fire. His fur stood spiked, radiating with abyssal energy, and the once sweet dog bared its fangs, ready to kill. A sword of pure dark energy formed in Kumo’s mouth. It was at least twice as long as his original sword, but Kumo wielded it fine nevertheless.
He charged once more at the hydromancer. Claire reached her hand towards the sky. The inky fluid slowly started to rumble louder than thunder, before pouring down in streams of shadows. Claire’s eyes widened. This was power she had never felt before. This was power capable of stopping Tibarro from torturing her any longer.
Claire winced as Kumo’s sword grazed her arm. Kumo made a U-Turn before turning away from Claire and her shadows.
Claire flicked her hand once more. The shadows started to chase after Kumo like wolves chasing prey. Once again, Claire felt powerful yet somehow, so incredibly peaceful at the same time. Claire marveled at her powers for a moment before stirring up water from the puddles of ink on the floor. They oozed upwards and lashed at Kumo, attacking the dog from all angles, but the liquid simply evaporated upon touching Kumo’s fur.
Claire laughed maniacally, allowing her voice to echo a thousand times throughout the plaza. Kumo snarled back at her, adding to the chaotic noises. Kumo dashed towards Claire again.
A stream of shadows lifted the hydromancer into the air right as Kumo closed in, then another shadowy fist pummeled the dog to the ground. More claws of darkness erupted from around the dog, and tried to grab Kumo. The dog barked loudly and grabbed his sword again to slice the shadows away. If the audience could’ve seen it, Kumo showed years of practice with every stroke, cutting the shadows to fine ribbons every time without fail. Even despite that, as Kumo took out one shadow stream, another appeared upon Claire’s direction.
Kumo jumped up and landed on one of the streams of dark energy. As it circled back closer to Claire, Kumo leapt towards her again. More shadows grabbed at Kumo from behind, one ripping his sword out of his mouth. Another wrapped around his neck, but he continued descending on Claire from above.
Claire gasped as jaws as unforgiving as Tibarro’s closed around her throat. She started to close her fist to strangle Kumo, but suddenly she stopped.
The abyss was just too alluring. I’m sorry for what I've done, Kumo.
Claire’s hands fell open in resignation as Kumo ripped out her throat. Black, inky blood sprayed everywhere. Then, the inky ceiling collapsed down on the dog and dead girl.
The Twelfth Match - Winner!!!
The audience gasped as blood stained the surface of the pond. Then Kumo drifted up unconscious followed by Claire’s mangled body. The sight of it caused Aki to throw up into the lake.
A few seconds ago, Kumo had been dragged underwater along with Claire, then this?
Rehela jumped into action, running along the remaining bridges to the bodies. She pulled them onto a floating bridge. After muttering a few spells, Kumo woke up. Promptly upon seeing Claire’s body, he fainted again. Rehela sighed as she muttered a series of spells, bringing Claire’s body back together and bringing her back to life. Then she woke up Kumo with a little flick.
“What just happened? I- I was in some d-dark place fighting Kumo, then…I was…dead?” Claire tried to recall.
“You were in there for a few seconds.”
“I was?” Claire asked, “I just remember feeling peaceful. Powerful.”
Kumo whined a little bit.
“He says he doesn’t remember either. He just remembers a great presence. Something large. Something terrifying. Like feeling scared, yet somehow peaceful at the same time.” Oritira said from behind her.
“How did you get here?”
“Vines.” Oritira pointed to an arc of vines that connected the recovering champions to Aki’s judge box.
Aki called over, “Rehela. They’re terrified right now. We can’t ask them what happened now.”
The healer nodded.
“We have our winner!”
Chapter Twenty-Two - Dark Dreams
As Kumo slipped away under the cloak of night, Aki stayed up. The darkness was eerie. Haunting. It reminded him too much of the shadows that engulfed their city a few weeks prior.
Aki pushed open the balcony doors, his only shield from the cold darkness outside.
“I know you can hear me, Friyena.” he whispered, “Wherever you are, we need your help. Please.”
A small item clattered to the ground behind him. Aki spun around quickly. “Hello? Who’s there?
The lights flickered for a moment, then everything was normal again.
As it was the last night of the quarterfinals, Oritira struggled to sleep. She had arranged for outside housing so that she could stay close to Kumo and the others. This was the time when they needed each other the most. Unbeknownst to her, a shadowy figure slithered under her room’s door. It swirled up the bed’s backboard and entered Oritira through her slightly open mouth.
She felt herself falling. Her path went on and on, spiraling forever into the endless darkness. Oritira landed hard on the cold ground. She walked forwards slowly, tripping on a large metal chain in the process. Oritira followed the ancient chain with her eyes, seeing it finally end up in a black pool. She heard a cacophony of whispers ahead of her. They were calling to her. They were calling her name.
She saw a girl chained to the ground, not far away from a pile of splintered wood and snapped strings. Oritira opened her palm. A bed of vines propped the sleeping girl up into a more comfortable position.
“Hello? Can you hear me?”
The girl didn’t respond. Oritira noticed bands of dark magic swirling out from a hole deep in her chest. Was it a dagger’s mark perhaps?
“Oritira…oritira…oritira…” a loud voice echoed through the halls. The echo grew louder and louder until Oritira started to scream. More chaotic noises filled her mind. The vines holding up the girl fell away and she fell to the hard ground once more. Oritira felt something shaking her.
“Oritira!” Aki shouted as he shook her. Oritira snapped out of her dream. Somehow she had made her way out of her bedroom, down many floors, and into a great hall. There was a bed of vines at the end of the hall.
“I didn’t know you sleepwalk,” Aki chuckled.
“Then how are you here?”
“I- I don’t know. I just had this dream.”
“I don’t know where I was. It was dark. Very dark. All I saw was a girl in chains. She was suffering but I didn’t know how to help.”
Aki sighed, looking a little worried. “Go back to bed, Oritira. There’s three hours till breakfast. You can pack and leave afterwards.”
Aki turned to leave.
“Aki!” Oritira called just as Aki was about to turn the corner.
“This doesn’t mean anything, right?”
“It was just a dream,” Aki nodded.
It’s happening just like Nyrine saw. This was the darkness Nyrine was worried about. I must consult her.
Another part incoming soon!