Chapter Twenty-Seven – The Last Victim
Kevin lunged once again at the spellbreaker, crashing the blue blade of Drodias against her magic shield. The collision sent out a burning flash of sparks down the line of impact, and her forward push sent him back like before. And when Eldrian tried another spell, she was quick enough to break it to pieces.
The two knew they needed a plan. A simple swing would always be blocked, and spells would be countered as long as she was focused—and she seemed to be quite adept at such.
“Your magic is useless,” Asta declared.
“So I cast sword!” shouted Kevin as he began another assault of slashes.
His strikes were blocked by her shield, but also parried by a few swings of her mace. He had been practicing, but she was older than him, and had clearly been doing this much longer than him. But he tried nonetheless. Kevin didn’t want to fail his friends despite his lack of actual magic ability.
“You’re quick with that blade, and it’s clearly special, but it won’t be enough,” said Asta rather calmly even in the midst of combat.
Her stoic expression broke. She didn’t realize, as Eldrian had not been casting spells, but the wizard instead had jumped up behind her to wrap his arms around her body.
“I cast grapple!” shouted Eldrian.
“What the hell are you doing?” Asta snarled. “Are you just messing with me? Get off—Ah!”
Barely able to stop Kevin’s strike, she was left defenseless against a sweeping leg from Kevin. She fell under the weight of her own body and crashed against her stomach while Eldrian released her. This let the wizard spray forwards a breath of flames from his palm.
Asta rolled over and halted the simple spell quickly enough with her shield to only be lightly toasted. With impressive speed, she leapt up and drove her head into his stomach, sending him back, gasping for air. She repositioned herself, making certain she could see both of them in her peripheral vision.
“Guess I don’t need magic,” whispered Eldrian as he gripped his belly.
“You’re both pissing me off.” Asta ground together her teeth. “I’m not letting your friends come help you. You’ve messed with me long enough. I’m getting impatient.”
Eldrian looked to Kevin, and then to her. He smiled. Backing up, he looked as of he was ready to cast a spell, though he did know nothing would come from this. For whatever reason, he did so anyway, perhaps because there was no other option.
She charged him and crashed through the spell as if she was leaping through a window to take the wizard down, but she was observant, especially since their little trick from before. She noticed Kevin’s sneak attack.
“Summon sword, Drodias!” screamed Kevin just as Asta turned around.
A metal object, like some sort of shuriken, was hurled at her, and it clipped off the top of her shield, as she expected a sword instead. Thankfully, it didn’t hit her anyway. Time slowed. She looked to the object moving up from the top of her shield and over her shoulder, and in only a split second, she realised what it was—far too late. It was the ring of Kevin’s weapon, but only the ring.
That was only for that moment, however. The ring flashed a bright white as grew into the sword Drodias as it usually does. The blade extended around, and sliced deep into her shoulder before going off to stick into the ground near the house. Blood sprayed out from the wound.
Eldrian then thrust both of his palms into her back, and she burst into an explosion of electricity. Flashes of light came from her body as she trembled. It only shocked her for a moment, but from both attacks, she fell to her knees.
“Good thinking, Kev!” Eldrian yelled.
“Damn it,” muttered Asta quietly. “Damn it all! I let my guard down for a second.”
“You’re finished,” Eldrian said as he looked down at her wounded body. “There’s no way you can keep up with two people at once now.”
She began to say something beneath her breath. He could barely make it out, so he perked up his ear with a perked brow.
“What was that?” he asked.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “Please forgive me… Victor.”
It was already too late when the two of them noticed what she was doing. They had no idea how much was left inside, and maybe she didn’t either, but the Elixir of Strength was both in her hands and between her lips. She drank down all she could and slammed it to the ground—shattering into shards of glass.
“What did you just do?” shouted Eldrian.
“Was that the—“ Kevin asked, shaking.
Asta screamed like a banshee. It was deafeningly loud, and as it reached the peak of its crescendo, it was no longer pitched like a woman in pain. It grew deeper and more demonic in sound. Her skin writhed and bubbled, and her bones twisted and contorted. Slowly, she rose from the ground, and her height started increasing. By the way she moved and the noises she made, it was like she was in agony, but there was a seething rage and unrelated pain surfacing from the flaring of her nostrils and the complete vacancy in her eyes. Her skin turned brown. That’s what it seemed at first, but it actually formed a thin layer of fur. Her weapons fell to the ground, and her clothes tore into only scraps. The shoes she wore burst from the hooves that formed within, and finally, a giant set of horns extended up from her skull. It wasn’t long before she resembled more of a disfigured minotaur than a woman.
She started swinging wildly. A few of her strikes collided with the wall of the house, and it suddenly made it very apparent just how intense the Elixir of Strength’s effects can be. Shock-waves exploded from the impact, blowing nearly half of the building into pieces. Asta roared, showing her razor sharp teeth and twisted tongue.
It was at that time that Deena, Renatta, and Daveon all returned from their respective fights. They formed a very wide circle around the rampaging monster and looked exceptionally surprised.
“What is that?” screamed Renatta.
“Asta,” spoke Eldrian. “She chugged down the rest of the Elixir. This is bad.”
She roared once more. This time, she struck down a hand, whether it was on purpose or by coincidence, towards Kevin. He was in the process of picking up her shield when this occurred. He brought it up with both hands, and an explosion of power rung out from the impact. He was sent flying like a cannon ball to tumble out in the field.
“Daveon!” screamed Eldrian. “Go make sure he’s all right, please!”
Eldrian gazed up at the behemoth. “Crap,” he muttered. “Just hit her with all you’ve got!”
The three remaining combatants began blasting her with attacks, however, it was the worst case scenario. She stopped half of them, like a spellbreaker would. The rest hardly affected her tough skin, but she luckily still did have an effect.
“She’s still a spellbreaker after this?” cried Eldrian.
He noticed that she was mostly out of her mind. Perhaps it was a side effect of the Elixir, or maybe she simply drank too much. Either way, she kept looking to the collapsing building when she wasn’t flailing wildly. He also saw that her skin continued to crawl. It wasn’t unlike what happened with Pachama. Her desperation led her to doing something reckless. It was definitely possible that Asta wouldn’t be able to last much longer in this form.
“We can’t stay close,” Eldrian said as he began lifting up from the ground. “Asta! You’re wrong about magic. Most of us want to help people. We want to live with everybody else. If it wasn’t for all this secrecy, wizards wouldn’t have to live in the shadows!”
He was still shaky. Flying was certainly not easy. But he was able to remain several meters up, so he made his way over the wreckage of the house and attempted to bait the monster in that direction.
Asta looked up. She barely made out the escaping Eldrian, but her nostrils flared and her eyes shone red. She stampeded forwards, and burst straight through what was left of the house, causing it to fall into a pile of debris behind her as she came out the other side.
Kevin, with Drodias back in his hand, came from seemingly nowhere. He cut across her ankle, diving between her legs, but it stuck deep into her flesh. He rolled to the other side to stand by Eldrian despite this. The monster roared in pain and fell to one knee. He celebrated, even if this would likely only last a moment, and he was currently unarmed.
She remained down longer than Kevin expected.
“You’re going to die like this,” Eldrian said. “Eventually. Look. You’re breaking down right now. Asta, please. This has gone too far. Wizards can help people! Without us, who would stop rampaging creatures like you? There’s threats that need us, Asta. Don’t you see that now that you’ve become one?”
A burst of air came from the monster’s nose, and it was so powerful that it caused the grass in front of her to fall back as if a helicopter was landing. She then clutched her body and groaned. It almost sounded more like a woman this time, but perhaps it was only Eldrian’s imagination. She yanked Drodias free from her leg and gazed over it for a strangely long time.
“Is this going to be like Dylan all over again?” asked Kevin.
“No,” Eldrian replied. “I don’t think so. Something feels different. I think before she even drank that Elixir, the fight was over. Maybe she knew that. Kev, we won.”
“But she’s still alive.”
“I can’t claim to know everything, but I have a guess to make. I believe that she hasn’t been alive for a long time.”
“I don’t understand.”
Asta, the monster, finally moved, though she continued to linger her stare at the magic sword. She didn’t look well. Her skin and body continued to contort even though it looked as if her transformation was complete. She was either only going to grow stronger, or she was going to collapse under the power of the Elixir—maybe not that hour, or that day, but eventually.
The rest of the wizards came out, but looked to Eldrian, as there seemed to be no fight occurring.
“What’s going on? What is she?” Daveon asked.
“The last victim that Elixir is ever going to have,” Eldrian answered softly.
Asta stared at Eldrian. She didn’t see Eldrian, however. She saw somebody else. Eldrian never knew what she was whispering, but she was trying to speak. It wasn’t to him. She looked to the blade once more, and then to the wreckage of her house behind her. Her eyes wandered off some place else. It didn’t matter where.
She succeeded one more time that day. There was a magical threat to the world, and she drove a blade straight through its heart. It just wasn’t Eldrian.
Stay tuned for Chapter Twenty-Eight – Party Like It’s 1499!