The fires engulfed him and she could see the bones blacken and then burn, crumbling to ash from the heat of the fires. Then he was gone, consumed in the fires. When the light died his card began to flutter to the ground.
Rose turned to join the battle that was surely happening inside the battle. Then her leg gave way again. All her energy began to evaporate as the lost control over the burning red crystals which vanished one by one. She needed to go in there and help but this time she couldn’t muster the energy.
Instead she lay in the ash that surrounded her. She felt numb, she had lost of a lot of blood during the battle. It was all she could do to burn her own wounds closed to protect herself before she blacked out.
Her last thoughts as she passed out was that she did it. She won.
The second floor was pure darkness. The windows had been blackened and boarded shut. Only the smallest fragments of light managed to piece those black windows. In that almost pure darkness even Horizon had trouble seeing.
However she had something special to help her. The light from the Shield of the Morning was sort, extremely soft but it was enough for Eyes that Gaze the Horizon to see throughout the room. Hunter Stained with Blood was somewhere on this floor, hiding and waiting for the perfect time to strike.
While the light from Shield of the Morning allowed Horizon to see it would already reveal her location clearly to Hunter. He could remain in the deep darkness and watch her then attack at the crucial moment.
Horizon walked through the rooms looking back and forth keeping as alert as she was capable of being. Hunter could potentially kill her with a single knife if she was not properly able to defend against it. In previous fights she had been able to watch him and and block his knives because she had been able to follow those trajectories.
While she walked she kept the shield up high near hear face. That way she could defend her neck and chest was quickly as possible.
There was a creak of floorboards behind Horizon and she spun to face that direction. The light of the shield grew and she saw nothing. A trick maybe. She spun around again to check her rear but there wasn’t anybody there either.
“Hunter Stained with Blood, I know you here. You know that I can beat you in a fair fight so you are sneaking around. You had better hope that your first attack injures me significantly.”
There was echoing sounds coming from the rooms. His voice unnaturally echoing off objects and distorting his location.
“I was hoping not to have to fight you.”
“I thought you liked fights. That you enjoyed this?”
“I suppose I do. We could do a few rounds if you really want.” Came back the echoing voice, “But right now I’ve lost my muse.”
“Your muse?” Horizon tried to locate the location of the voice but it seemed to be coming from everywhere. He was extremely skilled as masking its location and his abilities probably had something to do with that.
“At first he made me feel alive. I fought the people he wanted me to fight and not those scripted stupid fights that most of you do but real fights. However time passed and I began to realize that this too was a lie. Even those fights were fake, a better constructed illusion but still an illusion.”
“What do you mean?”
“All the fights, Cockatrice has his little plans and desires. Who he wants to beat and who he wants to let live. Like now, you are on the list of people that aren’t supposed to die, those that are supposed to still be alive because they might serve his goal.”
“You are not supposed to kill me?”
“Precisely. I considered disobeying orders and just kill you because it was not what he said but I realized that would just be a minor opposition. If I really needed to show my dissatisfaction I would need to do something more extreme.”
“You plan on betraying Cockatrice?”
“Indeed, and if you wait there for a moment my preparations will be complete.”
“Your preparations?” Asked Horizon as she continued to look around on the top floor to no avail. However this time Hunter did not say anything. The silence bugged Horizon, she still didn’t trust Hunter, he said that he planned on betraying Cockatrice however the explanation about why he planned on doing that didn’t sit well with Horizon. She thought he was up to something, something that wouldn’t be good.
The gear turned in Horizon’s head trying to figure out what he was planning. She believed him when he said that he planned on betraying Cockatrice, that he was unsatisfied with the types of fights he was having. However in the current situation he would likely never be able to escape Cockatrice without turning himself over to Berardo and his personality suggested that Berardo would also be a terrible place for him.
She realized that he was planning to turn everybody against him. A real fight against everybody in the building, the thing that he had been searching for. However how would be plan on doing that? Then she saw her clue, a little waft of dust. She looked up at the ceiling. He had tricked her from the very beginning. He hadn’t stopped on this floor, he had gone up to the attic. That is where he had been speaking to her from.
How had he gotten to the attic. There must be some entrance somewhere however Horizon didn’t really have time to find it. She thought that the longer she waited the more time he would have to do whatever it was that he planned.
The light from her shield blazed excessively and the circles materialized strongly around her eyes bringing all the world into focus. It took all her concentration to do this so it wasn’t something she did all the time. However in the brief moment when all her powers were activated she saw it. The hatch leading to the attic.
There was as secret button that she had to push that caused a stairway to detach from the ceiling. She climbed the steps one by one until she reached the top. When she reached the top she almost fell backward down the stairs again.
There was a giant pulsing green shard, like a crystal but bigger. Hunter Stained with Blood was laying against the wall next to it. He was gaunt and pale, like his life was getting sucked away. Horizon could tell that was literal.
She gasped as she spoke, “That thing, it is using your crystals to function.”
“Hehehe,” His voice was soft and weak, no longer distorted, “A little trick of my own. I found this spell among his collection. I found a special way to activate it without him noticing that I’m doing anything. I couldn’t access more of the crystals than he gave me but I was able to use the power he sent me to this instead. Clever don’t you think?”
“This…. This is a bomb!?” Said Horizon horrified as she realized what it was that he was actually doing. “This could destroy the entire mansion and everything in it!”
“That is kind of the point now isn’t it?”
“I can’t let you finish this?”
“You can’t? I would instead advise that you run. It is almost fully charged and when that it done this entire mansion and everybody in it is going to explode. Pity you took so long figuring out what I was doing. Had you gotten here a little sooner you might have gotten everybody out of the building. But not, maybe two minutes let, not enough to get everybody out. You could probably jump through that window there and survive yourself.”
However Horizon has already stopped paying attention to him. She was staring at the bomb spell. Hunter had already finished feeding it almost all the energy it needed. Even if he stopped now it would still have plenty of explosive power. She needed to find some way to stop it from exploding, that was the only way to save everybody.
She enhanced her sight to its absolute limit watching the flow of energy inside the crystal. It went back and forth connecting and empowering, changing and energizing the parts. She needed to disrupt the flow but how would she do that.
Suddenly she had her answer. She rushed over to Hunter Stained in Blood and reached into his coat to pull out one of his knives. He tried to reach up and stop her however he had lost most of his strength and could not resist her when she pulled the knife free.
She walked over to the crystal. Took one more view of the flows of energy and then crashed the knife into the crystal at the exact right point. Energy poured over her out of the crystal. She could feel pain all up her arms. However it wasn’t enough, that single break wasn’t enough to stop the crystal from exploding.
She pulled the knife free and then once again jabbed it into another position in the crystal. There was another rush of energy. Then another pull and stab. With that final cut a practical whirlwind of energy poured from the crystal knocking Horizon down. She watched as the energies funneled outward, blowing the roof off the top of the building.
The energy kept flowing from the room stronger and stronger and Horizon gasped like the air was being drawn from her lungs. She could see that Hunter was having the same thing happen to him. She could no longer seem to keep her physical form together and moments later she had reverted to being a card. As she fluttered back and forth to the floor she could see that Hunter had the same thing happen to him.
The man had slammed Blade of Unique Sway through the floor into the basement. He would have crushed in Blade’s skull with his fist had Diane Simon not fell down after them and nearly skewered him through. He was forced to roll out of the way to avoid the attack.
Diane and Blade where then able to assume a defensive formation.
“Oh?” said Diane, “Now why did you dodge my attack. I was under the impression that you could not be harmed.”
“No talking, more fighting.” The man grunted as he rushed them. This time he didn’t really avoid their attacks. Their blades cut and sliced him but as he ignored the attacks he forced the two of them to split up and flank him to avoid letting him get to close to them.
As they attacked the wounds they inflicted seemed to have no effect on the man. Sure he was cut but after each wound was inflicted it quickly closed. All of their attacks seemed to have not effect, not even delaying him.
He continued to go after Blade who had to attack less and less as he was being pushed more and more as the man closed in. They had no way of harming the man. Diane tried to figure out what to do. She had a few crystals available for spells if she needed to use them. Last time she fought she had not used her spells appropriate. During the training she had done a lot of work to try and practice using her spells during battle.
She needed to find a way to harm this hero. She and Blade had been assigned to fight this opponent since she had extra spells that could help. She went through each of her spells trying to decide if it would harm him. Why had he dodged that first attack she made. There had to be some reason for it.