It was almost noon, Phloria\'s group was about to call it a day, planning to resume after lunch.
Belia was walking in the air.
After all that had happened during their first day, she had kept picturing the forest like a hellish place, with dangers lurking behind every corner.
That morning, instead, had been so peaceful that she had managed to calm herself and regain a bit of self-esteem.
Visen was of a different opinion.
- Damn! Seeing Lith\'s and Phloria going along so well after a single fight together, I was really hoping to get the opportunity to prove myself to them.
If a trembling jelly like Phloria has managed to become our team leader in one day, why should I be any different My family is in the magic business from generation too, and my mom always told me that I am talented.
Too bad that the academy\'s Professors do not agree with her.
With Phloria\'s foolproof plan and Lith covering my a*s, I could show those beasts who is the boss.
Sigh, instead all I did was picking fruits like a f*cking monkey! –
Suddenly, the wildlife calls that had filled the air until a moment ago went quiet.
Sentar\'s shriek cracked the silence, announcing its presence.
Lith flew to Visen\'s side, while Phloria did the same for Belia.
The 2 men units kept a distance between themselves of about ten meters (11 yards), close enough to be able to help each other in case of need, but far enough to not get caught by friendly fire.
Unlike the first day, Visen wasn\'t scared at all.
Lith was already covering his back, so he started chanting his first Warden spell, confiding in his partner skill to buy him enough time.
- Thank you, gods! This is really my lucky day, I feel we can do it.
But since you are already listening to me, can I also have the hot teacher from Principles of Advanced Magic fall into my arms, completely naked –
Sadly, the mystic line between a man and his gods had to be gone bad.
Instead of Nalear, it was Sentar diving downwards Visen, its talons spread wide for the kill.
Truth to be told, it was a female and was naked too, hence many could argue that two thirds of the youth\'s prayer had actually been granted.
Lith managed to finish his spell in time, conjuring three fireballs at once in a triangular formation along the Cron\'s trajectory.
To avoid getting hit, Sentar was forced to conjure a strong updraft to make a U-turn and avoid the blunt of the explosion.
Seeing that all eyes were still following its movements, after gaining altitude Sentar started flying in circles and preparing a trap.
Coming from the opposite direction from their partner, Termyn and M\'Rook tried to take the humans by surprise.
Yet no one had actually paid any attention to the Cron, their casting uninterrupted.
Phloria had already conjured a tower shield made out of earth, its surface completely frozen.
A perfect counter to most spells based on air or fire magic, the only elements a Ry could use.
Belia was now wearing a thin suit of armour, formed by countless shards of ice, the number of which was rising at dramatic speed, covering every inch of her body and forming odd spikes on her back and arms.
M\'Rook had often seen that spell in the past years, the Ry knew it meant troubles.
[Termyn, we have no time to lose.
If the armour fully forms, we\'ll lose our physical advantage against that pup and will be forced to rely more on spells.]
[Then what are we waiting for I\'ll take care of the pups so dumb to use my elements, while you knock the others unconscious.
Sentar has almost finished setting up the array, it\'s a foolproof plan!]
[Stop thinking with your tusks, dimwit! It\'s all too obvious.
This is either a trap or the most idiotic plan I have ever seen.
Let\'s pretend to fall for it, but be ready to switch opponents once we understand their ruse.]
M\'Rook had used an air spell, to keep contact with its partners, no matter how distant.
[Copy that, M\'Rook.] Sentar replied.
[I\'ll give you all the covering fire you need, let\'s kick their a*ses and go home.
I\'m bored already.]
- Phew! I\'m glad I get to switch target with M\'Rook. Termyn thought.
I don\'t like the pup with the mean eyes, he gives me an eerie feeling.
I can\'t put my knuckles on it, but he has a vibe that reminds me of Boss Scarlett. -
Termyn wasn\'t stupid, quite the contrary.
M\'Rook knew it, and that was the reason it had lashed at the Cingy\'s eagerness.
Termyn had the sharpest instinct among the three, but this time was too embarrassed for sharing its readings.
Both the magical beasts charged at their opponents, M\'Rook in a zig-zag pattern to not offer an easy target, while Termyn could only advance in a straight line.
- Well, well.
Look at that. Lith thought.
Seems that when not chasing us, they are not allowed to use fusion magic.
First the Cron, and now the Ry aren\'t using air fusion speed boost to overwhelm us.
If I\'m right, this is a rare occasion to go mano a mano with a magical beast.
If I\'m wrong, meh.
I\'ll fall valiantly protecting the team and get the heck out of here. –
Visen had yet to finish his second spell, he needed more time.
There were only so much Lith could do, with all the restrictions that the presence of witnesses burdened him with.
But having already drank another set of three fake potions and activating air, fire and earth fusion, he was still quite confident after discovering that his opponents had restrictions too.
Lith flew toward the Ry, manoeuvring in all three dimensions, forcing it to a stop.
[Not this again!] M\'Rook growled in frustration.
Suddenly, switching targets didn\'t seem such a good idea anymore.
[Ah, M\'Rook, my stubborn apprentice.
Seems like yesterday when a man-pup gave you a good beating and I once again pressed you to learn how to fly.
Any creature that controls air magic should do it.
Refusing to, is a sign of either pride or stupidity.
Which one is your case, apprentice] Boss Scarlett\'s voice resounded in its ears.
[It doesn\'t seem like, it was yesterday! And you repeated that a hundred times already, I get it! Now shut the f*ck up! This pup is troublesome.]
Scarlett guffawed at the Ry trying to hide its shame and embarrassment behind an angry façade.
Meanwhile, Termyn had almost reached the girls.
When the Cingy was about thirty meters (33 yards) from them, they both launched toward it two yellow wisps of air magic, one from the left, one from the right, in a X pattern that left Termyn no way to dodge.
- Oh, sh*t! Not this again! – Termyn thought.
Having learned its lesson, the Cingy dived nose first toward the ground, that opened under the girl\'s astonished eyes and turned softer than cotton, allowing the beast to burrow through like a hot knife against butter.
That move had caught them unprepared, but Phloria training kicked in.
She kept following the tunnelling effect with her eyes, while casting a Mage Knight spell with her free hand.
Belia\'s armour was almost complete, and several full formed ice weapons were circling around her, waiting for a command.
Like Phloria, she was readying another spell, cursing herself for not having bought any potion.
They had asked Lith if he could share them, but the imprint system made it impossible.
From opening the stopper, to drinking the liquid, only the owner was allowed to do it.
There were only two possible options.
Lith could drink and spit them into another bottle, but not only that was disgusting, it was also useless.
Outside the flask, the magical properties wold quickly disappear.
The second one, was to pass the liquid mouth to mouth.
Everyone had dismissed the idea without a second thought.
In the heat of the battle it would have been suicidal.
When Termyn came out of the ground, right under the girls\' feet, like a shark from a horror movie, it met Phloria\'s tower shield reinforced by the Tower Guard spell.
It enhanced the conjured shield density, raising its weight and hardness to that of a rock weighing several hundred kilos.
Despite Tower Guard, Termyn came out dazed but unscathed, while the tower shield shattered on impact, forcing Phloria to cast for a new one.
Lith too was having a hard time.
Once the initial surprise was over, the Ry had decided to ignore him and take down the weakest link.
The other pup was doing nothing but casting non-stop, with no apparent effect.
Much to Lith\'s disappointment, even with the potion-like boost from fusion magic, his physical attacks had almost no effect.
The thick fur was like a cushion, taking the blunt of the hits and dispersing most of the kinetic energy.
- Dammit! If only I could go all out with fusion magic, this would go differently. -
Not on my watch! Lith yelled, releasing his tier three spell Checkmate Spears to stall some more.
But this time M\'Rook had its legs on the ground, and had already experienced the spell\'s effect.
So, it used compact and high-density air shields to deflect all the spears it wasn\'t able to dodge while moving at high speed with air fusion.
- F*ck me sideways! Lith thought.
Their restrictions only apply when attacking, not defending. -
It took only a couple of seconds for Lith\'s spell effects to wear off, leaving the Ry with nothing more than a few bruises.
Visen had yet to finish.
How long does it take Lith yelled in frustration.
And don\'t you dare answering until everything\'s ready!
- Perfection requires time! – Visen inwardly grumbled, completing the second spell and starting the third one.
- I swear that as soon I get back to the academy, I\'ll stockpile speed potions like there\'s no tomorrow.
How could I be so stupid I\'d really deserve a good beating. –
Once again, Visen and the gods seemed to be perfectly in tune.
Sentar had finally completed the dark air array in the sky, making flying above the trees impossible for the four students, while thunderbolts and black arrows rained from the enormous magic circle the Cron had materialized.
The fast lightnings and the slower arrows coordinated their trajectories, leaving Phloria\'s team no way out but defeat.