Yin had heard the strange howling that echoed across the jungle followed by various screams of her peers, but that did little to slow her down. This was probably just another part of the stupid test, she thought. Psychological warfare, trying to get them afraid and shake their resolve. Little did they know, her resolve was steel. On her path to the spire she had encountered two rogues, and both were left bleeding on the ground. It was hilarious how most viewed her as weak just because she had no access to alchemy and more so because she was a girl. "Idiots" she scoffed as she continued to dash towards her destination, she didn't just want to win she wanted to decimate the competition. But some part of her had begun to feel some caution, the closer she came to the spire the closer she came to the source of the howling. "What the fuck is going on here?"
The spire was a sight to behold and not just because of the sheer size of it but also because of the carnage that surrounded it. Countless bodies of her comrades lay eviscerated on the ground and one student had even been impaled on top of the spire. It was something out of a horror story, what could do this to Asylum candidates?
As if to answer Yin's thoughts something roared, sending shockwaves reverberating through the forest and then the silhouette of something blurred across. It's speed beyond belief.
"What the fuck……" Yin thought out loud, her body instinctively taking a battle stance. It was as if her body understood the danger before her mind could process it.
"I smell your fear child…" A foreign almost alien voice echoed in the mind of the Laofeng, her eyes slowly widening as she finally saw what was in front of her.
The creature towered at a height of almost 9 feet while standing on all fours, it had the head of a lion, wings of an eagle and a snake instead of a tail. Though what was far more frightening was the fact Yin could not sense any alchemic drive. This thing was not an alchemist…..
"I'm so fucking dead," Yin thought to herself as she helplessly watched the creature open it's mouth and unleash a torrent of flame, like a dragon.
“Shit.” Zane muttered to himself angrily when the group teleported to the spire and the bodies surrounded them knowing that there was a chance that some could still be alive if he continued his original trajectory to the spire instead of going back. Looking ahead he spotted the Lao standing still and the beast and immediately darted towards her. I trust that you all can figure out how to support. Zane said to the other three as he closed the space between him and the girl.
The scenery that greeted Elsa when the group arrived at the spire tore at her heart. It twisted her guilt and wrath into a tight, icy ball over her core. Any emotion failed to crack to the surface as she glanced at Samad. The Iranian managed to better composure than her, especially in the hooded dark eyes. Inside was another matter since his harsh fury flooded their link.
Zane’s words shattered their remorseful silence when he shot forward. The lion’s maw widened as fire erupted out and sprayed toward the unlucky student.
Elsa raised her bow and shafted a bright blue arrow, one with ice alchemy. She circled behind Samad then released it at the lion’s face side. No matter where it impacted, the substance crackled then spread to engulf the surface it landed on.
Samad’s eyes locked onto the speed of the flames and snapped out his hand, palm facing it. Tingling danced up his arm then shifted to his other one causing him to raise it at Zane. Immediately, a prinkling and the need to move filled Zane’s legs to boost his escape.
As Elsa readied another arrow, she turned to Bella. “Can you use your droids to scan that thing for weak points? The more information we know, the better our survival is.”
Bella struggled to turn her gaze away from the familiar faces that she had mentored. A few were the students that she saw before the start of the trial that she tried to drown with encouragement and positivity that mirrored Cici’s baseline. Those words were meaningless now that their life was extinguished. The woman could feel a few stray tears escape as she gave Elsa a nod. Configuring her bots for speed, stealth and agility, ten small bots that were the size of a bee zoomed out of her bag in near silence and flew above and around the chimera without stopping in any location for long.
“Where did that cocky brat I saw before go? I hope you’re not already waving a white flag.” Zane asked as he grabbed Yin and spun around so that his back faced the fire. Heat and pain spread across his back and down his sides and limbs the man tried to shield the girl from as much of the fire as he could with his body and shield before picking her up and darting back towards the others. His clothes were singed but between his hardened skin and the aid from the others he was otherwise unscathed.
"Like I need your help," Yin scoffed at Zane, her hand silently shaking before the 'Laofeng' managed to control her composure. Coming from the oldest of all Bloodlines, she was privy to information withheld from most Asylums. This abomination in front of her, this was no alchemy, she sensed no alchemic drive and that was terrifying.
When the arrow impacted, the wooden shaft shattered. All the alchemy buzzed then erupted into ice, spreading the frozen trap across the fire-breathing head. While it melted near the mouth, it circled about the back and down the spine to encase the rest.
The majestic creature sneered at the Asylums as it tore into the corpse of a student and devoured his heart. "I see your kind grew tired of watching their children slaughtered!" The creature spoke, though no words came out of its mouth. This thing was capable of telepathic communication. As soon as Elsa launched her ice-imbued arrow, it slowly began to spread and encase the Chimera's back, the creature roared in anger as frostbite spread across it's back, though the creature healed and regenerated faster than the damage could spread. It was a minor nuisance.
"What you see before you is nothing. I will show your kind the horror deserving of an oathbreaker. You thought to contain one such as I?" The Chimera continued to speak telepathically, her fangs dripping blood as the creature observed her prey.
"Blood for blood!" The Chimera howled, it's voice loud enough to rend trees from their roots. The shockwaves colliding into the Asylums, the battle had begun and the monster charged.
For something so massive the Chimera moved with unbelievable speed and grace and in a matter of seconds it had closed the distance between the Asylums. Her maw wide open as the Chimera glared at Zane but before the torrent of flame could escape her mouth Yin's boot connected with the creature's lower jaw disrupting it's attack and allowing the Asylums to regroup.
"What the fuck is that thing!? It can fucking talk!" Yin screamed, frustrated at dealing with an enemy she had no understanding of.
"There is no escape!" The Chimera howled once more, it's horns sparking with kinetic energy. The charge continued to build for a few seconds before it unleashed a massive bolt of lightning in the direction of the fleeing Asylums.
Bella let out a small gasp as she saw the lightning head towards them. The woman quickly diverted a few bots in front of the group and created a chain down into the ground in a quick attempt to make a lightning rod to disperse the lightning. The shock would cause those bots to short circuit but they would still provide some functionality with her alch-spec.
It’s nothing like any beast or creature I’ve seen or read about. The prisoner mentioned something about old forbidden alchemy but I don’t sense anything. Bella said in response to Yin as she included the girl in their telepathic conversation. There was concern in the woman’s voice as she tried to hold off her panic as she looked through the information she gathered. I don’t see any obvious weak points yet but there has to be something. Right Elsa? Maybe the horns or the tail? Or...
“If the horns are what controls the electricity I’m all for shattering it.” Zane said as he patted down his back to ensure the charred shirt didn’t have any lingering flames before sliding off his shield and handing it to Yin. “You’ll be useless without the use of alchemy or a weapon. This will latch onto your forearm. It might be a bit clunkier than you are used to but you should be able to slash and stab this thing with the edge by your fist. We could tag team the horns or if you prefer you could focus on the tail.”
You’re going without your shield? Worry seeped into their link as Bella spoke to her partner directly. This thing is way out of our league compared to anything we have gone against and honestly should be handled by someone with more experience. I don’t like this handicap you have put on yourself.
I would be more hindered if I had to be concerned about protecting her. Zane retorted as he grabbed his axe. She’s tenacious enough to have a fighting chance to stay alive now that she is somewhat equipped.
As the vibrations in the air rippled through the ground, Samad's feet braced and dug into place. His arms lifted to protect his face from the lashing air. It whipped by followed by the earth underneath began to upheave from the force. He absorbed the force into his alchemy though it didn't stop him from being thrown back.
Samad landed on his side when he flew a few meters from his original location. He shook the daze from his mind as he pushed himself back up. Elsa had been far luckier in preventing the damage. She rushed backward putting a few trees in her way to dampen the force directed at her.
He thanked Bella's quick action to redirect the lightning as he picked himself back up and Elsa drew closer. When Bella, Zane, and Yin finished their conversation, Elsa spoke.
Sorry to interrupt the argument, but Zane's right. I'll explain later why. Each of you should take an ice arrow with you. Stab it into the horn base and then attack, the cold might weaken the tissue enough you can break it off easier.
She held out two arrows, one for Yin and the other for Zane.
They hold an alchemy charge that on impact, explodes into ice. Just act quickly when you do or you'll become stuck too. Samad will boost your speed so he needs one of your bots Bella to transfer speed over. I’ll use my smoke and acid to keep its attention, giving you cover.
Samad looked at Bella expectedly while Elsa moved to the right, pulling away from the group to fire an acid arrow at the Chimera. She aimed for the beast’s side to gain the widest target. On impact, the alchemic chemical would sizzle then burn along the flesh. On a normal creature, it would leave a soccer ball sized scar several layers deep in a short time.
Bella gave a nod towards the other two and diverted one of her bots towards Samad and had it dart near the man at full speed. I’ll keep this one moving by you so take as much as you need.
Immediately Samad went to work. His fingers and lips silently moved, his alchemy spread across his figure to suck the bot’s momentum then transfer it into the others.
The Chimera simply observed the Asylums as they formulated their plan, like a cat amused as it's prey when it tries to fight back.
Yin held Elsa's arrow in one hand and Zane's shield in the other. Even though her alchemy had been rendered ineffective she was not going to just let this monstrosity kill her. The overall plan made sense. The objective was to find a weakness, the Laofeng had already noticed the creature's healing factor and she had to assume the other Asylums were privy to it by now. She needed to prod at this creature more and give the Asylums a better understanding.
"I'll go alone first, we need an understanding of it's healing capabilities," Yin replied as she adjusted the shield and experimented with the weight.
"Time to fuck you up, you ugly mother fucker!" Yin growled and charged at the same moment Elsa fired her acid arrow. As soon as the arrow connected with the Chimera's chest the acid began to spread across her body and yet it did no damage.
"Fuck, the damn thing is immune to acid?" Yin thought while bracing herself against the coming attack. She expected another lightning or flame based attack but instead the creature's snake like tail slither in her direction and from it's fanged mouth spewed a torrent of acid. Luckily the shield held and the student hoped the Asylums were taking notes, this creature had shown three properties so far. Fire, Lightening and Acid.
"Got any more surprises you shit eater?" Yin screamed as she pivoted before the snake trap her, her body spinning and using the momentum to slam Zane's shield against the creature's horn and right after stabbing it with Elsa's ice arrow. In that instant two things happened, the ice exploded enveloping the creature's horn and the enraged Chimera slammed it's head into Yin's exposed torso, hurling her a good fifty feet into a tree.
The Laofeng had heard her ribs break, possible spine damage from hitting the tree since she could not feel her legs. It's a good thing the fish tanks could heal this, so all in all her stupidity wouldn't cause permanent damage.
The Chimera seemed to be laughing, one of it's horns had completely shattered along with some portion of its skull. It was a gruesome sight and yet in mere moments the flesh began to restitch and the horn grew right back.
"It has complete regeneration, I don't think we can exhaust it…..it has to have a weak point." Yin groaned before passing out.
Bella gave a concerned glance towards Elsa as she raised her hand towards the shield and with a deep breath worked the shield off the girl with her alchemy before bringing it back to Zane. Do you have any ideas on what the weak points might be? Bella asked as she released the rest of her bots including the ones that made up her backpack. She didn’t like how the Chimera was watching and laughing at the group. Was the power balance uneven enough that the creature was toying with them? How bad would things get if it started to attack them seriously?
I say we shoot it down with your bots, fists and ice and any other attack and see what sticks Frustration was starting to build in the man as he put the shield back on his arm. He knew that there was value in collaborating and coming up with a plan together but he didn’t enjoy waiting and toying with hypotheticals especially if there was a chance to save any injured students still grasping at life. Keep him busy and I can try for the tail, eyes or anything else we haven’t hit. With his axe in one hand and the ice arrow in the other, the man charged at the creature.
Bella stretched her arm in front of her and moved a third of her bots in front of Zane and led the charge. If the Chimera released electricity she could quickly divert it and as well as create a rudimentary shield if the creature charged forward. With a flick of her wrist she released a handful of projectiles which half was laced with anti-alchemy substance along with five tracking beacons to test out what injuries might stick. She wasn’t sure if the adhesive would stick but if it did it would be a good backup if the Chimera decided to leave or have the ability to teleport. Or worse, if they died and whomever arrived to clean up the mess could see where the creature was headed.
Elsa doubled back to Yin’s downed form. She took a quick knee and checked the woman’s pulse briefly. Still alive, much to the blond’s relief. As Zane charged, Elsa voiced her thoughts.
I’m thinking we might need to edge into dangerous levels of alchemy because of how strong this thing is, but we need a clear weakness to target. I can create sigils as a trap on the ground or in the air. However, it leaves me vulnerable and takes time to complete so Zane and you need to cover us. Elsa knew what she was proposing was dangerous, not to mention forbidden.
She had notched another arrow, a smoke one this time.
Let’s target the other head and figure out which is the easiest to hurt. Providing you some smoke cover for the tail! Her alchemy flowed through the arrow when she released it before Zane came into the creature’s range.
The air around the arrowhead crackled and a line of smoke trailed from it, the point aimed at the snake head. If it impacted, the creature’s vision would find it difficult to note which direction Zane’s or Bella’s attack came from. The element of surprise might be enough to prevent them from becoming hurt if they altered course.
Meanwhile, Samad’s Alchemy rippled out to the pair’s bodies. New energy and adrenaline boosted their speed adding their reflex ability.
The Chimera roared in anticipation as she observed the Asylums try to charge it, such futile endeavour it thought as it's horns once again began to crackle, a charge slowly building and then fired at the closest Asylum, the one named Zane. The lightning sundered all in it's path but before it could strike the charging alchemist some mechanical orb appeared to divert it away.
The Chimera roared once more, the Asylums becoming a greater threat with every passing moment, they were trying to find her weakness. Before the monstrous thing could charge another arrow struck it, the snake head hissing as a cloud of smoke burst around it blurring vision. Amidst the disorientation she was pelted once more by several projectiles by Bella. The Chimera ignored them. Ordinary weaponry could not harm her nor could any form of poison.
The creature spat out a torrent of flames but the Asylums avoided it with a sudden surge of momentum and speed.
Elsa moved away while Zane and Bella distracted the creature. The ice queen’s bow gave her the advantage of distance when it came to attack, her aim adjusted higher to accommodate gravity. She immediately connected to AMRO through her link and requested permission to advance her alchemy level. Time appeared to draw out to impossible lengths while she waited for an answer. Her blue eyes locked on the fight between the creature and her allies, her fear solidified in her core.
"Enough!" The Chimera finally screamed, it's wings flapping causing winds to lash out, rending trees from their roots and hurling them. "I have had enough of this, time to die little mice." The creature spoke telepathically before an almost alien alchemic drive suddenly ignited. Only an alchemist could feel this form of presence, the presence of an alchemic drive being activated and it was frightening. The creature size which was already massive began to grow, it's claws sharpening, it's horns extending, it's teeth growing. In a matter of seconds the creature stood twice as tall, it's snake head tail hovering over it's lion head. Both heads glaring at the Asylums ahead before their mouths opening unnaturally wide and hell unleashed.
The creature bathed the forest in fire and clouds of acid, destroying all in it's path. However to anyone watching it close enough, something glowed inside both its mouth. A strange gem-like organ that glowed in each mouth.
When AMRO unlocked the second level, Elsa’s eyes widened in shock. She had finished etching the last of her sigil in her palm then slammed it down. A curse muttered from her lips as ice cracked and shot across the ground. A thick wall immediately raised up in front of the three asylums only to evaporate from the impact. The rest snaked along the terrain to the chimera’s planted legs, crawling up the fur to fasten it in place.
Meanwhile, Samad had stopped his alchemy long enough to spot the twinkling within both the lion’s and snake’s mouth. As the force whipped about Zane, Bella, Elsa, and himself, he knew their time grew shorter the longer they fought it. At this point, they had nothing to lose.
There, see those two crystallized objects in the mouths? I think we need to hit them. Elsa will keep hindering it with her ice. Zane and I will work on getting its mouths to open. When you see a shot, Bella, you need to fire on it.
Without wasting much time, Samad rushed forward. His katar extended into a crossbow as he took aim and fired.
Got it. Bella said as she readied her bots around the beast.
Zane rushed towards the lion’s head as the ice grew around the base as she started to mutter an incantation. He could feel the skin on his body start to tingle and his left arm start to burn the longer he chanted. The man lept towards the head and jammed the arrow given to him towards the eye and immediately covered it with his shield with a slight upward angle as it detonated. Ice grew around the shield and forearm as most of the impact moved upward from the eye towards the horns. This left him stuck on the chimera unless he released the shield off his arm and broke the ice off of him but this left him in a state that he could continue to focus on offense even through any attack that might be thrown at him.
“…and stitch by stitch form my body into a machine for war.” Zane said as he finished his incantation. The surface on his body grew in thickness with visible thickness as what appeared as scales emerged. Underneath the ice Zane’s arm also changed to withstand the dangers of ice and frostbite.
With everything set in place the man relentlessly swung his axe at any part of the chimera he could reach, starting with the other eye and nose.
“I agree this is quite enough. I’m done with your shit, bitch.”
As she continued to twist around, Elsa's eyes tracked the conflict. Her breath stuck in her chest when she watched both Samad and Zane desperately charge at the chimera. Ice held firm at the beast's legs as it roared, trying to struggle free. Everything rode on this single moment. Adrenaline flowed from Samad's side of the link, confirming this to be their last chance to survive.
Quietly she prayed for their success.
Time slowed down when Zane leaped up to the chimera's face. The lion's head snarled at the Asylum challenging it and her head reared back. Surrounding air swirled into her maw and a faint red glow gathered at the back of her throat. Heat sizzled off her form in waves, the ice's temperature raising to create a faint fog around them.
Before the chimera released a fresh torrent of fire, Zane's blade made a heavy, fleshy thump. The glow flickered out instantly. Her lower jaw, the muzzle cleaved in half, slacked. Blood splattered across the frosted ground, first in a drip then into a pouring stream.
The fissures in the gem branched out from the main crack then spread and crumbled in on themselves. Her tail's head whipped about, its beady eyes fixed on Zane. It lashed out, fangs soaked in venom.
Only the swoosh of Samad's arrow gave warning before it hit its mark. It pinned the snake against the goat's hindquarters, muffling a frustrated hiss. Gem fragments fell from its bleeding maw as its last breath escaped its body.
With the final gem destroyed, the chimera’s body crumbled to the ground. The flora shook then stilled, dying into silence. The only thing left standing was the Asylums and the eerily jungle around them.
Elsa was the first to move. The very act weighed heavily on her already exhausted mind and body, her vision blurred by frostbite nerves. Her temperature had dropped dangerously low, but she pushed herself forward and took it slow. She was sure Samad suffered the similar side effects since he had found a tree and discreetly used it to keep himself upright. Thankfully their training prepared them for the worst possible outcome and hid their weakness in a situation. It did not make it very easy, especially to the trained eye.
Her head couldn't stop staring at where she recalled the beast was when they defeated it. She half suspected it might leap back up to finish them off, her worry causing her to speak in a harsh, breathless croak.
"I think we need to take her," she pointed behind her to the unconscious Yin, "to the evacuation point. From what we do know, I don't think that was the only thing locked up. Also, I don't think Samad and I should use more alchemy without some rest."
"You foolish vapid imbecile!" Angel growled as he wrestled with the Chrono. Both of them grappling each other one moment and then teleporting to another part of the jungle.
"You herald misfortune, you are responsible for this!" Tabion screamed as he continued his onslaught, managing to push the prisoner even overpowering him at times.
"This is your own doing, you thought to control something that is beyond your power and now you in your vanity can't see past the consequences of your actions!" Angel scoffed while continuing to evade the Chrono, in constant retreat. "Even now you are a hindrance!"
"Running is your only hope!" Angel suddenly teleported in front of the group of Asylums, his hair disheveled while the prisoner gasped for breath, sweat dripping down his brow. Clearly keeping up with the Chronos had exhausted this prisoner.
"What is this…" The man slowly whispered, almost speaking to himself as he observed the creature in front of them slowly disintegrating, it's body turning to ash and dissipating in the wind.
"You killed it?" The man replied, his tone surprised and equally mournful. "Very few untrained alchemists have managed this feat…….even though she was just a child." As the prisoner spoke he couldn't help but clench his fist, anger trying to pool it's way to the surface before finally being suppressed. "I suppose it doesn't matter now, there are matters of greater importance." Before Angel could explain matters further, the Chrono Tabion appeared in front of them.
"This little chase is over, you will be apprehended and will answer for your crimes! This is your doing isn't it!" The Chrono screamed, his rigid and calm demeanour had all but vanished. This was a man out for blood.
"I am tired of this and I have wasted enough time on a jester like yourself. Reri." The last word was but a whisper and yet it called down a tempest. Someone crashed down from the sky like a meteor, the debris showing only the silhouette of a child.
"You dare lay a hand on him!" The little figure in front spoke, her tone so apathetic it was almost surreal coming from such a petite little figure. What followed was but a single strike and Tabion was smashed through the forest, his body going through countless trees and disappearing from sight.
"Thank you little one." Angel replied, his hand brushing his partner's hair in an almost paternal manner.
"I have evacuated most of the children spread across this jungle, they are all at the Porter's circle. We don't have much time. It's time to leave." He ushered the group of Asylums to a single spot before teleporting them all back to the main campus.
The moment the Asylums reappeared at the Porter's circle, chaos and madness greeted them. The entire landscape had been ruined, buildings destroyed, the very terrain had been reshaped. Asylums lay dead by the dozen while countless screamed from fatal wounds and yet still many others still fought. And at the center of it all were four people who held their ground against Asylums, Lost Numbers and Chronos.
"We have initiated project Hell-storm, everyone is to evacuate immediately" A telepathic message issued to all as all personnel began to abandon the Island, even Chronos had begun to retreat.
"Project Hell-storm?" Angel repeated as the Porter's began to chant, their teleportation circle igniting and the countdown starting.
Asylums who couldn't retreat were abandoned. Some stayed to help but Lost Numbers and Chronos had already abandoned the battle
The four prisoners seemed to be preparing a strange spell of their own, aimed at the Porter's circle. They didn't plan for anyone to escape.
A Chrono charged the four prisoners, interrupting their kill spell and dying in the process
Someone new teleported in front of the prisoners, a young man from his appearance. Intense heat coming off him, everything melting, the prisoners began to run.
Everything went white.