The problem with this plan was that for creatures of their size they moved very rapidly. Its long legs let it cross over to them very quickly and the strength in its arms let it swing the sword as fast as any regular swordsman.
The first swing was the easiest to dodge because of them had been in a good position to dodge it. The second swing was harder because it was already engaged with them and because it was harder to gauge their movement just because it was so big.
He swung it wide across with the sword. Diane was able to mostly leap over the sword although she stumbled a little bit when she landed. Berardo didn’t have the agility to do that kind of maneuver so instead he dropped down.
The sword skimmed above him. It might have dipped down to crush him however the Bracelet of Mud was able to push it upward as it passed over him keeping him safe from the attack.
As the attack came to a halt Berardo followed the sword. Then he used the bracelet to create a wall of mud pushing against the sword and using the Bead of Gravity to increase the weight and better prevent the sword from moving. That plan wouldn’t stop the giant from attacking for long.
It just needed to move the sword correctly to break through the wall but that short delay was enough for Diane who recognized what Berardo was doing. She was able to close in on the giant. It tried to remove one hand from the sword to bat her away but that was a mistake. She was able to dodge the swing easily and the lack of the extra hand on the sword let Berardo keep it from moving for longer.
Once she was past it last line of defense she was able to get in close to the massive creatures neck and slice back and forth causing blood to spray. The giant fell backward as the lost of blood was too much for it.
As it fell Berardo could head Demon call to him through the communication spell. “I have both of them and am almost back.”
Berardo had been about to respond when he saw behind the giant that they had just felled. There was still the three other giants that were left but something else. A snake was coming out of the tower. It was larger than any of the giants that had already exited.
“Maybe you should cancel that plan. More enemies are coming out of the tower. At this rate we won’t be able to beat them all. I need you to instead defeat Cockatrice. If you can cancel his spell then we might have a chance.”
“Understood.” Came the response and then Berardo turned back to the giant monsters. “Sorry, Diane, Demon won’t be joining us. I sent her to defeat Cockatrice. We will have to handle this on our own.”
“Any clever plans that you want to pull out as the last moment to let us win?”
“I’ve already initiated all my plans. We just need to survive until they are good enough.”
“We will probably be able to deal with the giants but what about that snake.”
Berardo watched the snake begin to open its mouth extremely wide, “It looked like we will only have to deal with one of those.”
The rear giant turned and saw the snake, apparently they weren’t allies began the giant began to attack the snake. The snake bit down on the giant’s weapon and it shattered into little bits. Then the snake reached out and bit down on the giant. A few moments later the giant began to turn purple and cough up foam and blood.
The other two giants had already began running, trying to get as far away from the snake as possible.
“I wonder what other horrors are going to come out of that tower. Maybe if we wait long enough they will all fight each other.” Said Berardo not really believing that it would be that easy.
The snake was now moving toward them. There was points of green on the tips of its fangs, it must have been the poison that had killed the first giant.
Diane said, “At least we don’t have to worry too much about the poison. If we get bit by that thing I’m pretty sure it won’t be the poison that kills us.”
What was this excitement, something that seemed to be welling up in both Berardo and Diane’s blood. In the beginning it had been fear but not it was something more. An experience that was beyond who they normally were.
“I think Demon is going to have the boring battle against Cockatrice. It looks like this battle is going to be the fun one.”
They didn’t have any more time to chat when the snake lunged at them.
“Cockatrice.” Said Demon as she stared at the man. He was still behind the tower. It was like he was waiting for her to come to him.
“You came for me, abandoning your allies. They will probably die if you don’t go and aid them.”
“It seems that you constantly underestimate us or at least pretend to be stronger than you are. I think they will be fine.”
“I won’t disillusion you then. Although maybe you came to fight me hoping that by beating me you can deactivate the tower. Well, that is true. Although I am glad that it was you that came after me. Now I get to see if you can become the Eternal Hero.”
“Did I let a secret out of the bag? I suppose it doesn’t matter too much now. Yes, become. All the heroes in your product line have the capability to become the Eternal Hero, at least theoretically. In practicality most of them actually do not. Take the other one you have been fighting with, Eyes that Gaze the Horizon. She is unlikely to ever become the Eternal Hero.”
“Oh, and why might that be?”
“Because she relies on and trusts Detective Berardo. Oh, I know you would say the same thing but it is different for you. He is just a momentary blip for you, a temporary ally. So you need to push yourself to uncover more of you own abilities and power. Your ability to cast spells is already a sign that you might be able to become the Eternal Hero. I just need to push you some more.”
“Why do you want to find this hero?”
“Because the Eternal Hero symbolizes the violation of limits, infinite potential. Isn’t that the purity of human desire? To seek something that is impossible? That is what I desire too. Can you give it to me?”
“Even if I am this Eternal Hero I’m not going to help you.”
“We shall see. We shall see. And I have to thank you for talking with me for so long. It gave me plenty of time to charge this spell up. I hope it makes you the Eternal Hero.”
Cockatrice pointed at Demon and said, “Activate, Piercing Laser.”
There was a bright glowing line of light that extended from Cockatrice’s hand. It hit Demon right in the chest and she could feel it burning through her body. She fell to the ground trying to cough but being unable to do so.
Then Cockatrice spoke again, “Activate, Destiny Restraint”
For Demon of Forgotten Soot the pain grew more and more intense. Each moment she expected to lose her grip on the crystals and return to being a card but after each moment that didn’t happen.
Cockatrice was standing over her, “Do you keep wondering why you aren’t reverting.” He held up his arm, there were crystals visible hovering over it. His robes were also burning covered in black fire. “That is because I am keeping you here.”
He knelt next to her, “This spell is one of my own design, after all the Makers wouldn’t do something like this. It steals control over a hero. Normally not very useful, after all even if I was the one powering them they don’t have to obey me. A terrible spell except for one specific feature. It lets me keep you from reverting. As long as I hold onto your crystals you can not return to card form unless I desire it.”
Demon tried to speak but was unable to draw breath. The laser must have pierced her lungs. She tried reaching up with one of her claws to cut at him, to break the spell, but she was too weak.
He continued to knell near her as he spoke, “Do you know what happens to a hero who is unable to return to their card form? It is the same thing that happens to humans, they die. Normally the actually destruction of heroes is not very painful. I hear they don’t feel anything when their cards are destroyed but as you can tell this way is different.”
Demon was panicking. She didn’t know what to do. She was dying, Cockatrice has said so, and she could feel that he was right.
She could still hear him talking although it sounded like it was very far away, “Hmm, it looks like you really are dying. I am disappointed.”
She didn’t feel like he sounded disappointed. More like a tiny bit annoyed that he had wasted his time. To him, her dying was just a waste of his time.
Everything was getting colder. She had only been awakened a short time ago, she wasn’t actually that old really. All the stuff that she knew, most of it was preprogrammed into her like it was into all heroes. Her first real memory was Patrick Andrews awakening her.
It was a funny experience she thought. They had gotten her a cake, they had cheered and said “Happy Birthday”. She really didn’t understand what that meant, not even now, but that memory was important to her. There were other memories too, Berardo bringing in food and drinks while all the people she had trained with gathered around.
She had always felt a bit awkward during all of those encounters but still those memories were things that she treasured. What would Patrick think when she learned that she was gone forever. He had only known her a little while but she had known him her whole life. She believed that she went with Berardo to training and fight Cockatrice because she wanted to protect him.
Could she just leave him now? What could she do to stop it? She could have probably called upon some crystals to cast a spell but what good would that do. There wasn’t any spells that she had that could save her.
Wait… call upon crystals… why did that seem like a good idea. She was having trouble thinking, putting her thoughts together. She was grasping at an answer that she thought she almost touched.
Crystals, crystals, crystals.
Cockatrice standing over her forcing her to die.
Then the answer. He was forcing her to use his crystals so that he could force her to die. That meant she could do something to him. She drew in the energy, pulled at him, pulled at his crystals. His head twitched as he noticed what she was doing. He tried to resist but she pushed back. She had thought it would be difficult to force her way into a crystal but it seemed so easy.
She drank in the crystals, pulling them into herself one by one. She couldn’t mumble the activation phrase but she pushed the energy into her spells as she became overloaded. More and more crystals she activated and she realized that Cockatrice was staring down at her, he was surprised and was trying to figure out what to do.
Then he began to scream. She had heard that forced activation could be painful but this was the first time she had seen it happen.