“Activate, Communication” said Berardo quickly reactivating his communication spell with Horizon. “Everything good?”
She responded, “Indeed, everything is going according to plan.” She then began running through the hallways of boxes keeping out of the way of Underworld until they were ready.
One thing Berardo had learned about Horizon during training is that while her offense and defense were lacking her spell and agility were exceptional.
“Activate, Shield of the Morning” called out Berardo as he activated his second spell. The card disappeared and the golden shield appeared on Horizon’s arm. Berardo had initially considered using the shield one Rose however putting it on Horizon let her get closer to enemies without as much risk and her powers got stronger the closer she was to them.
The only remaining weakness was the difficulty of landing damaging attacks. However Horizon was not as weak as she appeared as she gracefully leap up on top of one of the racks and began running along it.
“There she is, on top. Jump up there are bite her!” Yelled Alchemist Theo. The giant dog leaped up on top of the shelves but because of its size it was more difficult for it to keep its balance and it had to keep moving between the tops of shelves or it might collapse something and fall.
‘Now’ Berardo mentally commanded.
Horizon lifted the shield to face Underworld and then it flared into bright light. Besides just acting as a shield the Shield of the Morning made it difficult to watch the wielder because of the reflections and light it produced. A simple effect but versatile and useful.
Underworld closed its eyes and recoiled at the bright light.
“Speed Boost.” Activating another of his spells Berardo triggered the next piece in the plan. With the beast distracted and Horizon empowered she was able to leap high into the air. Then with the force of gravity she fell, precisely aiming for the weak point in Underworld’s armor. A different hero might not have found that point but Eyes that Gaze the Horizon was a support hero able to find the weakness and patterns in opponents.
Horizon aimed the edge of the shield at the point. She didn’t have a great method of attack but gravity and an edge was enough to harm almost anything.
However it wasn’t going to be that simple.
“Activate, Guard Boost.” Came Theo’s voice from across the stage.
The shield came slamming down at the point of weakness and then Horizon leaped away. The edge of the shield was stained with blood but the spell cast at that right instant had prevented Underworld from taking any real damage.
His laughing voice came across the battlefield, “Is that trick the best you can do? You spend all your crystals and the best is a scratch!”
Berardo gritted his teeth. He hadn’t expected everything to go easily for them. They hadn’t training hard just to be stopped light that. He watched Theo’s crystals. The glow from his fourth crystal had already faded and it was recharging. The duration on his Guard Boost was extremely short and the cooldown seemed to be about the same as his Speed Boost which was still active.
On the other had Berardo was already using his 5th crystal. Two to keep Horizon, one for communication, one for Shield of the Morning, and the last was currently keeping Speed Boost going and would then be on cooldown.
Theo knew this and he was having Underworld fight defensively. Berardo knew that he was saving that last crystal to use in 12 second when the Speed Boost wore off.
‘Quickly Horizon, a second assault before it is too late.’ He mentally communicated to her.
Gravity wasn’t the only weapon that had. The environment provided plenty of improvised weapons. She had grabbed a metal pole while she the raced toward Underworld again. She raised the shield to create the flash of light again but this time Theo was prepared.
He barked a command and Underworld had two of its sets of eyes close while the third continued to watch. “Wait” He commanded as she got closer and closer to the beast.
5 seconds remained. Nearly at point blank range the shield went off. One sets of the dog’s eye snapped closed in pain and then a moment later the other two sets opened up allowing the beast to see. Also allowing the metal pole that Horizon was holding to be plunged into one of the eyes.
Underworld howled in pain and took several steps backward while Horizon leaped backward making as much room as she could between herself and Underworld. With Speed Boost and the shield she could attack and defend against Underworld however without the speed she would not as easily be able to defend herself.
The next thirty seconds would be crucial. Until the crystal recharged they would be at a disadvantage and Theo would have the advantage with his crystal he had been saving.
Rose had explained that this was often the case. Dreamers often went back and forth trying to hold out as best they could until their opponent was during recharge and then activate their assault.
0 seconds remained.
“Activate, Webs of Entrapment” came Theo’s words. Then around the arena white webs began to materialize covering the surfaces and stretching between parts of the walkway and the shelves below. Horizon had to dodge them and she tried to escape from Underworld who had begun it chase of her.
One of the webs began to appear in front of Underworld but with one swing of its terribly sharp claws the webs shredded and it continued after Horizon not even slowed. That was a problem. Theo had used this spell specifically because it would hinder his opponent and not his hero.
It was also excellent improvisation. This spell would have been less useful against Rose who could probably have fought with Underworld fairly well. However against the more vulnerable Horizon it was an excellent spell. He must have chosen it since the beginning of the battle. It was his experiencing showing.
Horizon kept her shield arm trailing after her keeping it angled at Underworld. Several times when it got close she was able to have it light up and give her a moment to escape from its clutches.
However Horizon was losing more and more space as Underworld was pushing her farther back and closer to Berardo every second. Then she made a mistake. Her back was placed up against one of the more solid walls in the building. She could have escape to either side but there were webs in both directions. Underworld loomed over her and raised one of it’s giant clawed hands.
Theo gloated, “It seems that this is all you can do. Powerless before my Hound of the Underworld without your speed and your spells. And I’ve learned to counter your shield too. You have nothing!”
Berardo smirked, “Nothing except your price.”
“Kill her!” screamed Theo.
“Activate, Hole” commanded Berardo. The wall behind Horizon disappeared and she fell back threw it. Underworld, because of the force of his expected blow, come through two. Except when he was half way through Berardo canceled the spell.
Horizon swung over the top of the wall and slammed down with her shield on one of Underworld’s weak spots. It didn’t have quite the strength of gravity as her first attempted blow but this time there was no defensive spell.
“How? Impossible! You were out of crystals! You couldn’t have cast another spell!”
“Then you should really pay attention to your opponent. I canceled my communication spell 10 seconds ago.”
Underworld attempted to break free of the wall but they had set it up so that it was the strongest wall in the building that he had been stuck it. Those extra seconds let Horizon swing a few more times causing blood with each blow.
Then just as Underworld broke free from the wall Horizon leaped away onto another one of the storage racks.
“Any it looks like it is my turn again.” Said Berardo. “Pity you did so badly when I was at a disadvantage. Activate, Speed Boost!”
“Noo!” Screamed Theo. He felt that he couldn’t lose, not to a rookie like this but he had been outplayed at every opportunity even when he thought he was at an advantage. And if he did lose then… Cockatrice would come for him. He couldn’t afford for that to happen.
He pulled out the card that Cockatrice had given him. He hadn’t planned on using it but if Berardo was going to put him through this humiliation then what better time then now to use it. His Hound of the Underworld was being pushed back by a speedy foe what was basically unarmed but this would turn the tide.
His crystal that he had used for Guard Boost had just recovered. “Sorry to burst your enthusiasm but it is time to end this charade. This will make you regret fighting me. Activate, Abyss”
He held up the spell as he activated it. His unused crystal glowed black powering the spell. Then the pain started his body became wracked with pain. The next crystal, the one he had been using to sustain Webs of Entrapment changed hue also beginning to glow black as that spell fell apart and Abyss began to get more powerful.
Hound of the Underworld was changing to. Its eyes glowed a brighter red and wisps of silver and black began to appear from its mouth. It was also getting larger.
Theo’s pain began to intensivey and with a cry he fell to the grated floor. His other three crystals were turning black too. No, not just them, his other crystals, the ones that he was not using in the battle were darkening two. There outlines beginning to appear in the air.
“What the hell is this?” He coughed. He was having trouble catching his breath. “What the hell did you give me?”
Berardo was stunned. Horizon had pulled back leaping up onto the grating and standing next to him. This was obviously not normal. He saw Meike motion King who leapt across the room toward the other spectators. Then he grabbed them all in his two giant arms and leapt up. Water swirled around him and a hole burst in the room as he jumped through it.
Berardo could hear Meike scream at him, “Get out of here. Escape quickly. Don’t let it get to you!”
The only thing that Berardo could do was node. He motioned to Horizon and the two of them ran for the exit. Then he stopped and turned and ran down the raised walkway toward the other side of the room.
“Wait, where are you going?” Said Horizon as she followed.
“We can’t just leave him there. Look.” He pointed down at Hound of the Underworld. Without any order the creature was breaking things left and right. Destroying things without any plan.
Berardo rushed up to the collapsed form of Theo. He tried to should the man as best as he could but without both his arms it was difficult.
“Any way we can cancel his spell?” Asked Berardo as he reactivated the Communication spell.
Rose responded, “If it was a normal spell maybe but I have never seen anything like this. If you can get him to cancel his spell then maybe.”
Berardo was carrying his body with Horizon’s help. He could probably make Rose materialize with his currently unused crystal but without a full awakening she would be too vulnerable. As it was Berardo was too vulnerable.
“Theofilus, can you hear me.” He called to them man he was carrying. “Can you deactivate this spell.”
Theo’s voice came mumbling back although it sounded like it was in intense pain, “I tried. It isn’t working. It has already taken over all of my crystals. I can’t do anything about it.”
Berardo managed to drag Theo outside the building but as soon as he did it he regretted it.
Hound of the Underworld burst through the wall right in front of them. It was enormous, at least twice as big as it had been during the fight and it had already been huge.