Volume I : The Flood
Chapter 26 – A Bone – Part 1
Lynk held the Terroculus in his left hand and waved his bone staff with his right hand, mumbling and shaking his head elatedly. In fact, it was impossible for him to use two magic media at the same time. He was just using the Terroculus, which sufficed just as well. It was simply a long lasting habit to wave the bone as a symbol of the headman.
The quiet water near the cave started to spin, forming a whirling vortex. As the vortex grew, the water became heavier and heavier, hammering the rocks on the shore. It was a [mudding magic], a kind of water magic. Any living thing hiding in the pool would not be able to withstand this stirring.
As an answer, a howl arose from the water near the cliff. Four big ugly heads emerged from the water. Enormous bloody maws gaped open, flashes of long sharp teeth were enough to show that they were ready to swallow half a man into their stomachs. One of the big heads sank back into the water after seeing Metatro, which might probably have been the one whose claw was cut off last time.
Metatro was on full alert with sword in hand. Suddenly, a long huge gilded whip slipped out of the water near the shore, silently swinging towards Metatro and Lynk.
It was an Ironback’s tail, thinner and longer than the big ones’. It was glossy, black with golden dots. It was swift, and came without the slightest warning, curving around Metatro and hitting towards Lynk with the tip.
Lynk was about to be cleaved in two when Metatro swing the sword upwards with a loud shout. The sword glowed as an invisible force seemed to capture the tail, paralyzing it in preparation to be cut.
He was using magic along with his martial skills, making it much more powerful. The sword did not directly hit the tail, but with a loud clank, the shine stopped the tail. The pressure from the tail was so enormous that Metatro’s boots sank into the mud. There was also an earth magic effect on the tail that made it heavier.
However, a tail was not a sword. Metatro stopped the middle part from descending, but the tipof the tail was still whistling towards Lynk. But Lynk also reacted rapidly. He performed an earth magic on the tail, trying to slow it down. However, since the heavy tail, which should belong to the king, was alreading descending, the earth magic didn’t produce much effect.
There was no time for him to hide, so Lynk was summoning all his potential to build a shield. A cloud of dust and mud was summoned over his head, but immediately smashed to pieces by the tail along with a brown light. The end of the tail crashed down on his wrist. With a coarse sound, Lynk’s forearm snapped, the Terroculus flying out to the cliff. Metatro had gained him a moment to lean back a bit, otherwise his head would have been blown up.
At the same time they heard Amon shout, “Run!!!”
Along with a series of clacks, a huge beast broke the water’s surface and leaped towards the two, but an ice wave from the shore froze it.
It was the king Ironback. Slightly smaller but much slimmer than the big ones, it had an unproportionally long tail, about two-thirds of its body length. Its glossy black shell was covered with golden spots.
Amon had felt it when it was about to ambush the two from under the water. He had sensed a disturbance of earth elements around the pool. So at least one of the Ironbacks knew how to use earth magic to detect the intruders on the bank. Amon had used similar skills to sense and find Maqi.
The king Ironback was smarter than they had thought, knowing to make a detour and attack the caster directly. Now it had scored!
Lynk had made a mistake to use earth magic against the king Ironback. The latter was also good at earth magic, with far more magic power than him. So Lynk’s magic had had little effect. Amon had realized that Lynk’s information was wrong the moment he saw the strength and speed of the king Ironback’s sweeping tail.
The king Ironback was significantly stronger than Metatro. It was even stronger than an advanced warrior and far more proficient in earth magic. Even the two combined could hardly encounter it. It was no surprise that it could break Lynk’s arm in a single ambush. In order to save their lives, Amon also tried his best to summon a wave to freeze the king Ironback, before it jumped on them.
The king Ironback struggled, shredding the ice as it did so. Knowing that the situation was bad, Metatro spun, grabbing Lynk and sprinting towards the woods. The speed of a fleeing fourth-level warrior was remarkable, even while lifting a man, when it was a matter of life and death. Amon’s magic was crucial to snatch them the time to get into the woods. But the king Ironback went right after them.
The bits of ice transformed into crystal blades, shooting at the king Ironback’s eyes along with a gust of wind. The king was forced to close its eyes. The blades caused no damage to its rough scale shell, just causing it to pause for a second before it continued charging towards the two. When it was about to step into the woods, a wall of flame appeared at the edge of the woods, burning up two fallen trees.
This was not Amon’s magic. Metatro had cut down two trees when they went into the woods, and Lynk managed to perform a fire magic with his good hand. This time the flame was even stronger than the one that had burned his house. The two fallen trees were burned into embers in next to no time. But he had also used up his magic force.
The king Ironback was completely blocked by the burning trees. It roared angrily, took a few steps back, ran and jumped. Using its long tail, it managed to vault clean across the flames. But the moment it landed, the moist mud under its feet turned into a marsh. Most of its huge body sank into the slurry. Then the marsh turned to a tough earth wall, burying its head and forepaws under the ground.
It was Amon who had performed this earth magic. He had no better means to stop the king Ironback. The king in the soil roared again, a vague layer of yellow light appearing on its shell. It struggled, managing to pull itself from the trap by breaking apart the solid earth. Without pausing, it shot towards the distant two, its tail inscribing a long arc in the thin air as it vanished into the thick woods.
Amon had performed three magics to block the king, trying to steal enough time for Metatro and Lynk. Now he could only wish them good luck, since he was now in trouble too. Right after the king disappeared into the woods, the strongest of the big ones climbed up the cliff and pounced at him with a gaping maw, showing sharp teeth. Amon was no taller than an adult dwarf, holding a rod which appeared less dangerous than the sword. But this big one received a serious rebuff from this seemingly defenceless figure.
The “rod” in Amon’s hand was made of refined iron. It was much heavier than a sword when used as a melee weapon, which was perfect to fight against heavily armored beasts such as Ironbacks. Amon struck the beast on its shoulder using all his strength, raising a gale to blow it off the cliff.
The staff struck the beast with an incredible force, which most warriors and mages in the continent couldn’t withstand, let alone an Ironback. Amon blew it off the cliff in a single blow. The Ironback fell into the pool, impacting hard on the surface. Indeed, cracks had appeared on the surface of the pool.
Why cracks? Because the area near the mouth of the cave was frozen into thick ice. The surface was skewed, since Amon had frozen it along with the wave to block the king. The ice extended into the cave, creating a solid path from shore.
The Terroculus that had been swept away dropped onto the icy surface and had rolled into the cave. Amon had to get it back since the messages from Crazy’Ole were all sealed in it. So he had driven a lot of magic force to freeze the whole area in order to prevent it from sinking into the water.
Even the falling Ironback did not break the ice. With another loud crunch, a second big one fell on the first. Finding that the two passed out below in a mess, the third Ironback stopped climbing and turned around towards the cave. The last one that had lost a claw did not attempt to climb at all.
Amon was able to bring the two down because he had occupied a superior position and performed magic smartly. He shouted and waved the staff again, sending a biting cold fog towards the four big ones. Shocked by Amon’s magic, they turned around and fled into the woods as well, abandoning the cave.
Amon had accumulated more magic force than Lynk. He also performed with a stronger staff. Most importantly, he used the right magic to counteract them. Amon knew the Ironbacks. Normally hibernating during winter, the cold would slow down their reactions and movements, awakening their instinct to fall asleep. The big ones were stronger than ordinary Ironbacks, but the instinct remained the same. They were subconsciously fleeing from the cold.
Amon did not dare go down the cliff to search for the Terroculus. He didn’t know whether the big ones had gone far enough into the woods. It would not be fun to be cornered below the cliff. Moreover, the king might be back at any moment. No one would be standing on the cliff saving him this time.
He suddenly reminded himself that he had an accomplice in his bag. Schrodinger was evidently clever enough to understand his questions. So he patted the bag and cried, “Schrodinger! Go down and take the Terroculus back! I’ll protect you!……Don’t make me throw you down!”
A furry ball flashed out of the bag and swiftly ran down the cliff, moving far more deftly than the Ironbacks. It disappeared below the cliff for a while, and then ran back with an ashy rod in its mouth.
Amon shouted in fury, “I said the Terroculus! The black stone! Not this bone!”