Horizon tried to block the giant beast with the Shield of the Morning however with only one swing the shield shattered and Horizon was thrown backward. Berardo felt his spells unraveling and Horizon was barely managing to keep herself solid.
Berardo tried to use that moment to carry Theo father away from Underworld but without Horizon’s help in carrying him, Berardo had trouble with only one arm. He only managed to get a few steps when Underworld roared and began to rush at him.
Just before it reached him drops of water, like rain, came for the sky. Then in a moment King of Endless Water slammed into it from above. There was the crackle of electricity from the golden spear he was holding. Underworld slammed to the ground under the weight of King who raised the spear again and then stabbed it downward once more.
Again and again however Underworld seemed to barely notice the attack. It swung around and managed to throw King free of it. He spun through the air but somehow managed to land on his feet several yards away from Underworld.
The surprising calm voice of Meike came from behind Berardo. “It looks like that won’t be enough.” Previously she had seemed nervous and uncertain but now she felt like a completely different person. Calm and in charge. Berardo had gotten used to seeing the crystals that people had active now and currently Meike was using 8 crystals. Berardo wondered if that was just King of Endless Water and his spear.
She pulled a spell out of a case on her waist. “Activate, Limit Break, Overcharged!” Three move crystals flared to life with those words. And the water and electricity surrounding King amplified.
He raised his spear and Underworld charged him. King thrust the spear into Underworld’s thick hide and then lifted the monstrous beast above his head. A bolt of lightning fell from the sky and smote Underworld who was being held aloft.
Berardo held his breath for a moment and then Underworld began to crisp and blacken. Then it began to crumble. In a few moments there was nothing left of Underworld except a card which floated slowly down from the sky.
Theo began gasping again like he had been holding his breath and now was able to breath again. With Underworld gone his spell was broken and whatever had been causing him pain seemed to be gone.
King grabbed the card out of the air once it was low enough. From Berardo’s angle the card looked like it had been burnt. King walked over toward Meike holding the card with a concerned look on his face.
He said, “It seems that our worst fear is true.”
Her face also looked grim as she accepted the card, “Indeed”
Berardo finally managed to recover from the adrenaline and said, “What worst fear? What just happened. I’m pretty sure that everything that just happened was, well, not supposed to happen.”
She looked up at him, “I don’t suppose you will just leave this to me and King of Endless Water? Things are out of your league now.”
Berardo shook his head, “I can’t.”
She sighed, “Alright then. This fool just activated a forbidden spell and a viral one no less. He should be thankful that he is still alive. Although it looks like all of his crystals have be ruined. A fitting punishment if I do say so.”
“A forbidden spell?” Asked Berardo.
“Basically any spell that wasn’t created by the Makers.”
“And that is bad?”
“Well, they are illegal in standard duals although they are rare enough that people don’t always know that. And for personal use, well, there is nothing inherently wrong with using them. However making spells is an extremely complicated task, people who try to make their own spells almost always end up with something that is buggy and doesn’t work exactly how they expect. And if they make to big a mistake it might be viral, running out of control and ruining the caster who is using it.
“Have you ever had to restart your computer because it froze?”
“Well, imagine that except the computer is a person. There is a reason the Makers discourage the creation of your own spells. I saw what remained of a person who tried to create their own fireball spell. They and all their cards were burnt all the way to the bone.”
She pointed at Theo, “And not to mention mana cost overflow that like. It drains all your crystals totally dry and then when they are all gone begins pulling the energy directly from the Dreamer. One pressing question is where did he get this forbidden spell.”
Theo, heading this pulled back from Meike, and then immediately changed his mind. He got closer to her and began groveling at her feet, “Please you have to protect me. I got the spell from Cockatrice and he said that he would kill me if I failed to beat Detective Abarca. Please, you can’t let him kill me!”
Berardo understood now. Cockatrice wanted weak targets so he wanted Theo to win. Berardo let Meike deal for the groveling man for the moment. He had another task. He walked across the road to the other warehouse that Horizon had been thrown toward.
She had crashed into the wall and she was just lying there. Berardo stood over her and looked down at her. She was crying.
“What is broken?” Asked Berardo kneeling down next to her to see what kind of injuries she had.
She grabbed him and pulled herself over to him. She held onto him while crying.
She didn’t seem to be bleeding but Berardo wrapped his good arm around her comfortingly.
“I couldn’t do anything.” She said.
“You did more than me. I couldn’t even carry Theo without your help.”
“I wasn’t strong enough.”
“Nobody is the best on their first rodeo.”
“You’re not going to abandon me are you?” she cried.
Berardo then understood what she was crying about. He patted her on the head and tried to give her his best smile, “You don’t need to worry about that. I’m not going to abandon you. Even if you don’t want to fight again I’m still not going to abandon you.”
She clutched at him and he held her for a while. Eventually he pulled himself away and stood up. “Now if you want to join me. I need to find out more information about Theo and what happened with him and Cockatrice.”
She nodded and he helped pull her to her feet. He then pulled out and awakened Rose. It had been easier to keep her active as well with 5 crystals then it was with 3 crystals. Then the three of them walked back to where Meike and Theo was arguing.
Berardo coughed, “It looks like you haven’t made a decision here yet.”
“I refused to protect him from Cockatrice and that he should just abandon town. Trying to protect him would make it too difficult for me to research his illegal spell.”
Theo looked dejected. Berardo nodded, “Alright then. I’ll take care of him. The police have some secure locations that they can keep him and I can have Horizon check him for any tracing spells.”
Meike nodded and then they turned to walk away.
“Wait,” said Berardo. “If you get more information about Cockatrice then sent it to me. I can’t fight a overpowered beast like you just did but I’m good at investigation, I am a detective after all.”
She nodded, “Sure. But you have to return the favor and give me your information.”
“Alright. I have some information that I’ll send you later.”
Then Meike was gone.
“So, Theofilus. It now seems our positions are reverse. Would you kindly apologize of Rose?”
“Yes, yes, of course. I’m so sorry, Rose of Unyielding Flames. I have reflected on my actions and will no longer insult people like I did. Now will you please protect me from Cockatrice.”
Rose looked down at him, “That sure didn’t sound sincere.”
“Now, now.” Said Berardo. “We should expect too much from him considering. But he is in luck. I am a police officer so I would be happy to put him in protective custody to protect him from a wanted criminal. I hope you aren’t too picky about food.”
Theo bowed and scrapped.
Berardo looked up at Rose, now ignoring Theo, “It is going to be annoying trying to explain this to the police chief though.”
“What are you going to say?”
“Honestly? I think I’m going to tell him the truth.”
“You think that is wise?”
“Wise or not I’m risking my career. However if I stay silent and he does eventually find out then I am finished for sure. And since I work in a career full of policemen and detectives that it only a matter of time. Also my resources are straining, there is a lot of work that needs done and I need police records. I can’t just keep hiding it while getting that information.”
“How do you think the police chief will react?”
“Honestly, I’m not really certain. He has always been an enigma to me. I can barely guess what he is going to do for a normal situation but for this? I don’t know, maybe keep the secret and let me work unmolested. Of course, getting fired on the spot is also an option.”
“What will happen to us if you get fired?”
Berardo scratch his head, “Not certain. My vacation savings will last us for a bit but beyond that I would need to get a new job. And probably check if Meike needs any assistants for tracking down Cockatrice.”
Rose nodded, “Alright then. But try to break it gently. Most people aren’t very well inclined to believe stuff like this.”
“You’re telling me. I’ll want you to to be a card for the encounter. That way it will be easier to demonstrate when that is inevitably called for. Hopefully he will accept a private demonstration. If the entire police station gets wind of it that would be immense trouble.”
Berardo looked down at Theo, “In that vien. Theo, unless you are speaking to the police chief or me don’t tell anybody the truth. I’m sure you can imagine how bad things might end up for you if you do that.”
He gulped and nodded.
“Alright then. Are we ready then?”
He received nods and they they headed out with Theo trailing behind.
The Owl that Waits
Berardo pushed open the door to the police chief’s office. The chief was sitting behind his deck reading something off his computer when Berardo entered. The police chief was probably the oldest man in the building. He had been the police chief since Berardo had been a rookie cop.
The man had long since retired from active service and now was just an administrative head of the station. He called the shots and his calls were final and everybody in the building knew it.
“Ah, Detective Abarca.” He said looking up.
“Chief Santoro.” Responded Berardo.
“Is something wrong? You have been gone for three days in your investigation with barely a word to those in the station.”
Berardo nodded, “Yes, I guess this about that. I found a man who had be threatened by the murderer and brought him here to be put into protective custody.”
“Ah, very good. Do you think you will be able to get information out of him?”
“I hope. However it was partially about that that I wanted to talk to you.”
He raised an eyebrow, his head was bald but his eyebrows were still plenty bushy, “And what did you want to say?”
“Well, it is rather difficult to explain and you might have trouble believing it. I would like you to keep an open mind while I explain.”
“Oh, we are having this conversation are we.” He said.