The group traveled through the dense green forest, where spider and insect monsters abound, but high above was a large snake in a tree. Suddenly it snapped forward, eyes on Kokoso, who froze in terror as it lunged at him.628Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡLtyP2qWIKS
"Titan's Wrath!" Noel yelled, punching the head of the snake, sending it out of the air and into a tree. She rushed forward and flicked the back of her hand at it, jumped forward and activated her jets for a few seconds to jostle it as it snapped forward, and swung her elbow backwards to slam into it's head as it fell behind her.
"Kokoso, are you okay?" Maria stepped between him and the monster, claws ready to block, "Come on, big snake, but we'll send it packing!"
"I...I--of course, sorry, it just caught me off guard!" Kokoso ran forward and drew his sword.
"I get it now, it's a basilisk." Autumn explained, "It can cause temporary paralysis just by staring into your eyes! They say that many basilisks gathered together to create the gorgon."628Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡFtPN8ZGUBH
"Look at her!" Byrd marveled, "She's swinging electric cables from her wrists and flying through the trees!"
"I think she's not going to let us have a turn." Kokoso sighed.
"Does she know how dangerous it is?" Maria wondered.
"Oh, no." Autumn stomped her foot, raising a wall as lightning flew from the basilisk's eyes, striking out at them like a thousand serpents.
"Wolfe Rush!" Maria jumped over the wall and flew through the lightning, dark, transparent wolves surrounded her, protected her, and vanished as they were struck by the lightning. She found Noel holding her hands out, staring into the basilisk's eyes, muscles twitching across her face.
"Reverse Siphon!" Noel suddenly cried. After staring into it's eyes for a while, in which it struggled to break free, she stepped forward, kicked the basilisk's chin, flipped through the air, she finished by blasting a spiral of water and stream of lightning that left the monster shaking erratically.
"Noel!" Maria watched Noel stare at the fading monster and nudged her shoulder.
"I thought it was was going to drain the life right out of me." Noel replied.
"Yeah, basilisks drain you until you're dead." Autumn winced and shook her head, "As though being frozen in place wasn't bad enough...if there's a powerful monster like a basilisk here, then we'd better be careful going forward."
"They are growing stronger...I wonder why?" Maria furrowed her brows as she remembered what happened with the phoenix, "I always thought that whatever made the monsters more powerful was in the middle of the woods, and then when we found the Refractory Construct, I was sure that was it."
"You're not wrong, the Refractory Construct is being used to make the monsters stronger," Spring explained, "Unseason's linked with us, we're linked with the Refractory Construct, she used Historia's gates to focus her magic, and used the Refractory Construct to access and distribute Gaia's power to the monsters, she used us to make the monsters stronger, but that could only take place on the first day of every corresponding season. Through this network, she probably planned to use the monsters--have her followers do the heavy lifting, since she's a little restrained at the moment--to do something along the idea of taking out Gaia."
"Spring," Maria asked worriedly, "what would have happened that day, if the red in the sky stretched all around the sky?"
"Oh, that...if it reached any further, it would have picked up the pace, and if it went all around the world, then the Spring link on Unseason would have shattered, allowing her to manifest herself more fully...but she needs a body first, so long as she doesn't get her hands on one of those, she's like a talkative, puppeteering, locked up, chained, declawed, clip-winged, muzzled chimera, perfectly safe!" Spring assured.
"But a chimera all the same." Autumn added, "She needs to die, or we're all at risk, if her minions can turn us into monsters once, then they can do so again...the process requires siphoning our souls into a flask, they're working with a magician."
"I used a siphon," Noel confessed, "on the snake just then...I didn't know I had it in me until I attacked."
"It's best if you don't do that again," Spring advised, "or at least don't finish the enemy off with it, sometimes the soul gets trapped inside the caster, though it's a good way to not get killed, there's three different siphons, magic, stamina, and life, basilisk uses all three...it's lucky you didn't gaze into it's eyes at first."
"Honestly? I was afraid of it's eyes, so sickly yellow and...and I was angry and scared because it could attack out of nowhere!" Noel clenched her fists and closed her eyes, "You guys are the only people I've got, and somehow I get the feeling I was never so...alive before...and even I only think that right now, I don't want to lose you guys!"
"Noel," Maria lifted Noel's chin and frowned, "you're crying?"
"I am," Noel ran the tip of her finger under her eye. She didn't know why, but she smiled, "it's odd, I feel like I remember things, but there's no...sights, only feelings."
"You've still got nothing, then?" Maria inquired.
"No...we should hurry, this isn't a good place to camp, and it'll be dark soon." Noel started ahead, eyes on the trees ahead.
"Maybe two someones should stay in the air." Maria turned to Byrd and Spring, "You got your glasses ready, Byrd?"
"They're not good for combat or flying, but yeah," Byrd sighed and took out his glasses' case, "they're right here...I guess Cat's staying on the ground?"
"We need her here, you two can warn us of danger ahead," Autumn looked up at the trees, "probably too dangerous to travel through the trees."
"We can always dive in with our spears," Spring pointed out, trying to reassure Byrd, "so they're safe."
"I'm not worrying." Byrd replied firmly.
"Good, then let's go, stay safe, guys!" Spring sprang into the air, following shortly after was Byrd, and they watched over the trees below for any movement.
"Now the rest is up to us," Autumn sighed, "there could be lizards and bees and all kinds of fun stuff here, and don't think we'll find any honey...I'm pretty sure monsters don't need to eat...I mean, doesn't mean they won't try, there are animals in there somewhere...poor things."
"Or spirits." Maria whispered fearfully.
"Yeah...or spirits." Autumn agreed.
Byrd flew down to the others and dropped next to them, "Five spiders ahead, two horned beetles after that, and past that the trees are too thick to see anything, Spring's staying up there to lend tactical support."
"Her wind powers are pretty effective," Autumn mused, "especially when she can spear the enemy without being targeted."
"She likes to flyby and stab on her way up." Kokoso added.
"So, what's our plan of attack?" Maria turned to Cathryn expectantly.
"I think we should hit them with ice, harden their shells and shatter them with lightning." Cathryn proposed, "As for our formation, I suggest our claws dual wield elements, Kokoso will freeze them with his sword and shield, I'll work on my spider while he works on his part, then he'll yell for a switch, and we'll switch, while Noel follows the examples of the claws...except with what I expect are energy guns of a sort, Byrd, you'll try to inflict poison where you can, start with Kokoso's, that way you can freeze it faster."
Maria nodded, "Good plan, I'll number them from left to right and send you guys in."
"We're ready when the spiders are," Kokoso turned to Byrd, "how close are we?"
"Very, Spring's up there, pointing at them." Byrd waved at Spring, who was pointing with her flaming spear.
"Yeah, I hear them crawling." Noel frowned, "They're so loud."
"It's a good thing we can hear them," Cathryn remarked, "but if they're hanging in a tree, we have problems."
Maria spotted the five spiders ahead and groaned, "Okay, no way I'm naming out who gets which one, they're all clustered together, but we're not moving in one at a time-"
"I'll hit them with water and freeze it," Noel stepped forward and held her hands out, "just say the word."
"Have at it, afterwards we can move in, Cathryn you can get the one in the front, Byrd and Kokoso can get the one in the back, I'll take the center, Autumn can have the far right, Noel can take on the far left." Maria turned to Noel, "Fire when you're ready, Noel."
"Ice Flower!" Noel yelled, shooting two beams of water in the midst of the spiders, which exploded in icy spikes on the ground."
Cathryn ran along behind the others and lifted her axe, bringing it down on the spiders head as the others reached their spiders.
Noel clenched her fists, water sputtering between her fingers, and icy spikes rose from them, stabbing the monster with every punch until the ice snapped, and then she flicked her wrist at the monster to strike with her lightning, using the time she staggered the monster with to replace the ice spikes.
Kokoso was lifted by Byrd and Cathryn jumped over her spider to strike the blue-white spot on Kokoso's monster, shattering it with her axe, and when they traded out again Byrd was working on Autumn's spider, poisoning them all before the battle was done.
"That was easier than I expected." Maria exhaled slowly as the monsters began to burn away.
"We fought well, we struck quickly, disallowed them a chance to recover or to interfere with a friend's adversary," Noel pointed out, "but in the end, it was only so easy because we worked together...that scares me."
"Cliche and sappy!" Kokoso and Byrd laughed together.
"All very good points," Maria nodded, "striking like we did made them easier than they would have been."
"And with practice, you'll be able to handle two of those each, without enchantments," Autumn remarked, "just think how far you've come, with just four of you, you each became way stronger by beating the phoenix, alone you might not be much of a threat, but together you can challenge those stronger than you!"
"Which means even a spirit as power as Unseason...hard to imagine fighting someone stronger than these monsters, but she's way stronger than them, right?" Maria inquired.
"Right, she's so strong, the four of us couldn't take her out." Autumn agreed, "But now I'm stronger than I was, and with you guys, I'm even stronger than the four of us were back then, but Unseason's gotten stronger, too, feeding Gaia's power into these monsters, who in turn give her strength by existing, and every monster you beat...sure, it becomes an animal again, returns to it's true form, but for how long until Unseason corrupts them again? You'll see soon how it's done."
"Let's go, the beetles are just a yards ahead." Byrd informed.
"Noel," Cathryn turned to Noel, "if you can cross your arms and hit both of them with lightning beams and uncross them, then they'll colloid, Autumn and Maria can take turns running between them, scratching their sides, I'll get the one on the left, Byrd and Kokoso will fight the right one like they did the spiders, after Byrd's poisoned them he should relieve Spring of her sentry, she must be getting tired. Noel, when the enemy recovers, warn us to clear out and smash them together again."
"If you have two lightning...output things on your wrists," Byrd added, "one's probably enough if you pull one of them into the other."
"I have two...everything in the right's in the left, I'm perfectly symmetrical." Noel said tiredly.
"Something wrong?" Maria asked worriedly.
"I don't think so...I think I was trained to be ambidextrous, or why I was selected for the program, maybe." Noel turned to find Maria looked more worried than before, "I don't know, that just came out, I wasn't thinking, it was like when I attacked the bears back then, it--please, believe me."
"I do, I'm just worried, to hear you were in a program."
"I don't remember what it was called, I'm sorry."
"It's okay...let's go get the beetles, if something comes up," Maria turned to Noel, "you can tell us after the fight, and explain the best you can."
Noel nodded and followed them to where the next battle awaited, worried and relieved at the same time.628Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡs9qMaLxzJQ
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