It was getting harder and harder for Karina to keep on fighting. Even if she tried to conserve her stamina, the extended usage of ice magic was already starting to take it's toll on her. Besides, she knew very well that one small mistake would be all the seed needed to take her out. Not only that but the seed didn't seem to grow tired as well. When Octavio mentioned his idea of using his illusions in a more aggressive manner, Karina immediately agreed with him, almost at the same time Chres shouted for him to do it.
With that said, Octavio's plan had an... unexpected result. Luckily, not a bad one.
Karina was able to hear the seed's roar before she understood what had happened. Apparently, the seed didn't seem to care, or even react to the illusions, but that also made it relatively easy for the illusions to pass through the seed's defenses and rip out another heart. Confused and in panic after having one of it's hearts ripped out by something which it couldn't see, the seed began trashing around, smashing it's tendrils everywhere, almost hitting Karina in the process."Dammit! This thing doesn't get tired!"
she cursed, as she gave a big jump backwards, almost losing her balance as she tried her hardest to avoid the tendrils, which were now trashing around the seed in a seemingly random manner.
Just as Karina thought that they had finally started making some progress, things went from bad to worse in a really short time. After being wounded by the illusions, the seed was now aware of them, as it became evident as it slammed down it's tendrils, quickly eliminating some of Octavio's illusions. If that was all, there wouldn't be many problems, but the worst part was that it also targeting the familiars.
Lynx was the first one the seed went after, striking it with a mighty attack. Lynn, worried about Lynx, immediately tried to help him, unaware that the seed was preparing another attack."WHAT IS GOING ON!? Why is this thing attacking us all of sudden?! I thought it wasn't able to see us!!"
Akai shouted alarmed as one tendril suddenly tried to pierce her, followed by many others, trying to attack her.
Akai, whom was previously only warning Karina and the others about incoming attacks and avoiding attacking the creature herself, afraid it might draw it's attention, was now forced to run, dodge and fly to avoid the tendrils as she headed towards Lynx and Sil, trying to help them."Akai, get Sil and Lynx, try taking them somewhere safe! I'll try to cover you with Chres!"
Karina said, just as Chres blocked another attack as the seed continued trying to take Sil and Lynx out."What's with this stupid thing?! How can we even fight against it if it regenerates, doesn't get tired and has like... at least 50 more 'hands' than we do?!"
Akai complained as she jumped one of the smaller tentacles, which tried to trip her, using the momentum to slash it with her claws. Even though she knew it would regenerate soon after, it would buy her some time as she tried dragging Lynx's unconscious body and Sil away from the seed."Sil! Keep talking, don't close your eyes! Lynx, Lynx! Wake up!!"
Akai shouted, shaking Sil and Lynx as she dragged, with some difficulty, both of them as far away from the seed as she possibly could.
In the middle of deflecting and fighting against the tendrils, Karina turned towards Chres, about to ask if he was okay, knowing that he would probably be in a worse state than she was, since he used his tempraisionism more than she had.
The moment she located Chres, she only had time to watch his back as he dashed towards the seed."WHAT ARE YOU DOI-"
Karina shouted, nervous as she watched Chres being caught by one of the tendrils. In her mind, she was already foreseeing the worst outcome. Chres being pierced by a dozen tendrils or having his bones crushed, slammed into the ground by one of the larger ones. The only thing that she didn't expect was that Chres had a plan... and one that, despite how reckless it was, had a very good chance of succeeding.
The very moment the tendril lifted Chres into the air, Karina was able to see him throwing a little pouch at the seed's mouth... The very same pouch of salt that they were given before the fight. Fortunately, Chres' gamble paid off. The salt seemed to have a very strong effect on the seed, which immediately roared, throwing Chres into the ground as it became vulnerable. Vulnerable enough for Chres, despite being heavily wounded due to his previous gamble, approach it enough to get face to face with what once was Lord O'Kal's skull, trying to pry open it's jaw to get to the heart inside it, followed by Týfurkh, who came soon after to help Chres.
Thanks to the coordinated effort of Chres and Týfurkh in opening the skull, Jen had a clear line of sight towards the heart and immediately dashed towards the Seed, holding his staff almost as a spear and using it to pierce the heart with no difficulty, ripping it out of the seed's body afterwards in a brutal and gruesome way.
Karina, who was almost being overwhelmed by the tentacles, suddenly saw them go limp and drop to the ground the very moment Jen's staff pierced one of the remaining hearts, much to her relief. The only tendrils that remained, now seemed to be much more careful of the pactmakers than before and were acting in a much more defensive way as they curled around what was once Nieffar's body, protecting the last hearts it had.
As a last effort to protect the remaining hearts, the seed roared once again, making it's innards contort and twist, bloating it's stomach as it did so and using the intestines to hoist up in the air. Karina watched, alarmed as the stomach suddenly turned it's tip towards them and spat a foul, acid looking liquid. Karina had no time to react before the liquid splashed, hitting Chres' leg and Jen's right shoulder. Chres' screams of pain were enough of a warning to Karina. One clean hit of that acid would probably put them out of combat for good, if not simply kill them.
Unfortunately, due to Chres having already been wounded and now, screaming due to the acid, the seed saw him as the perfect target and took the chance to finish him off for good. Focusing all it's tendrils on Chres, it tried to pierce him, only to be stopped by Chres' heat construct. Definitely the last bit of heat he had with him, judging by it's appearance and how frail it looked compared to the previous ones. Karina knew it wouldn't last forever. She knew that if she didn't do something fast, Chres would die and the chance he bought for them after paying an enormous cost, would be wasted.
With no time to think or ponder, immediately as she heard Chres' shouts for her to take the shot, Karina, which was already extremely exhausted, both physically and with her bodily temperature already dangerously low, gathered the last bits of her energy, making the two remaining blades of ice merge into a single ice spear and shooting it towards the heart with a frightening speed."IT'S NOT YOUR TIME YET, CHRES!"
Karina shouted as the ice spear flew towards the seed.
If that attack failed, it would be their end. Karina's lips were already blue, her bodily temperature was so low that it was nearing hypothermia and her muscles ached and burned due to exhaustion. All she could do now was hope that their last gamble succeeded.