Vermillion blades, crawling…
A door. He had to… a girl, crying in the corner…
…kle, little star, how I wonder what you are…”, she sang as…
Always, always the vermillion blades, crawling… crawling towards him, never stopping…
A tool. What tool? Sonic screwdriver. Made it himself, but it was not good, the battery would only last for…
Vermillion blades, closer now. The girl was trying not to scream he had to get her away…
…screw fell to the gr… grate down, pulled the girl with… the blades could not follow through the vents…
Alone this time. Except for the blades. Always the blades. And the light. The girl was with…
Vermillion blades, crawling…
Lots of scraps, piles of it. Enough material to work with…
“…I could not see which way to go, if you did not twinkle so…”
He could not fight the blades, but they could only be at one place at…
The light was flaring again. Inspiration. Doubles. Fakes to distract the vermillion…
The fakes were not good, he did not like them, but they worked. The blades had taken… turn… he had time to sit, time to th…
The girl was with him, again. But she was quieter than last time. They… so they… some time…
Vermillion blades, crawling…
And the light, always the light, never going out, always burning, just behind his eyes…
* * *
He stood in the middle of the battlefield. His body was burning like never before – the same way he felt after working out, this kind of painful, kind of joyful burning, only far, far stronger.
Looking around, he saw scores of twisted white monsters, no two alike, dead on the ground. Hecate and Tyche were there, as were Gloom Glimmer and Polymnia. Turning his head, he saw the masked boy, Osore, if his database was correct, stand together with a humanoid cat-fox being with black and red fur. Hybrid form. Shapeshifter – it has to be Aimi. Not important right now. His thoughts were so interesting right now. It was like a barrier had broken down and his brains was flooded with ideas that had been held back. With his hands hanging down to either side of his body, his fingers were twitching wildly as they used the suit’s typing function to write as much down as possible. And yet, right now, even that was not enough to completely occupy his thoughts.
Those… fragments. What had happened? He remembered jumping down into the fray to help the heroes against the spiteborn. Then, suddenly, he stood in the middle of all these corpses, drained like he had been fighting for hours. Just a few minutes, actually. His computer told him that his respiration and heart rate had suddenly dropped to those of a resting person, then spiked just as his brain activity picked up beyond what a human brain should be capable of. Thankfully, it was quieting down, though his fingers were still typing away on invisible keyboards. So many ideas and he could not write quickly enough to record more than fragments before they vanished again. He could only hope that he would be able to use his notes to rediscover them.
He turned towards the girls. They had approached him, looking at him with stunned expressions, if judged by what he could gather from what little he could see of their faces. “What happened?”, he asked.
“You… you don’t remember?”, asked Hecate. Tyche stayed quiet, which should have worried him.
“The last thing I remember is jumping into the fight. Then, I suddenly stand here, now, completely worn out”, he replied as his breathing got more labored. Whatever had driven him to this point, now he had to deal with the exhaustion. Both his body and mind seemed to move through some kind of thick slurry, unable to really pick up speed.
“Osore used his power“, Polymnia threw in. The three of them turned around to face her – she had approached together with Osore and Ai- no, Bakeneko. He noticed that even this form, that somehow blended the facial features of a cat and a fox, was quite a bit more curvy than any other girl present. It was pure Aimi – she was overcompensating and ended up with something that was more cartoonish than really appealing. “He didn’t see you and it hit you as well as the spiteborn. You froze for a second, then you went to town on the spiteborn. Never seen someone fight like that – you killed more than half of them by yourself.“
That was quite dumbfounding. But looking around, he could tell that most of the spiteborn had apparently been killed through blunt trauma, electrocution (the burns were quite distinctive) and the beaks of his ravens – many of whom where circling above the battlefield, keeping watch. Apparently, they had been ordered to automatically attack any spiteborn in sight. Also, he just noticed that his stun gun had run empty – and his suits battery was down to 40%. He could not afford to recharge it now, not with the very real possibility of fighting many more spiteborn before the night was over.
“I… did not know I could do something like this”, he said. Then he shook his head. “Later. We have bigger problems. This many spiteborn suggest…”
“… a root or at least a trunk, yes. We’ve got orders from up high, Gloom Glimmer and I. We are to search for the acre – it’s probably somewhere within or beneath the harbor. We also have clearance to recruit help from any metahuman, vigilante or villain. So let’s make this short – are you in? The Onis – what’s left of them – and your two teammates already agreed to help.“
He swayed for a moment, then caught himself as a dizzy spell came over him. “I am in. Where to?” That girl. Who was that girl I saw? Amy?… No, younger. Younger than me. But she looked a lot like Amy. A younger sister, maybe? He felt oddly detached. The possibility of a sister he did not know about… But really, what was I seeing? In retrospect, it was more of a fever dream. Hallucination. It does not fit anywhere into my memory. Changing memories is impossible, right? Not even Mindfuck can do it. Only suppress them. And I can not recall any blanks in my memory that would fit…
He suddenly snapped back to reality as Osore was just finishing up
“… they came from beneath the toy factory”, said Osore, his voice distorted into a sneer by an electronic voice changer. “We were waiting for the Snow Queen and her merchandise and they suddenly broke through the ground.”
“The Snow Queen? Where is…”, started Brennus, when a crash sounded.
A spiteborn, all twisted and broken limbs, was thrown through a window of the toy factory and landed about fifty meters away from their group. After a few seconds, the door beneath the window was blown out of its frame and the Snow Queen walked out, her outfit stained with black fluids.
“That’s the last one from in there”, she proclaimed as she approached the group. Then she stopped, looking at Brennus and his teammates. “You. Do you have any idea, what kind of money I lost because of you?”
“Do you have any idea, how many lives you have destroyed?”, Brennus shot back, unconcerned. She was not stupid enough to start something here, now.
“Enough“, said Gloom Glimmer in a deep, resonating voice. Then, in her normal voice, she continued: “We have other problems. I just got a status update from headquarters. Lamarr the Purple has fought back the spiteborn attack on the Petal Memorial Hospital. Mindstar has all but obliterated them in the west end of the city…” Figures that she would defend our home, thought Brennus. “…and the Amazon, the Free Dancers and Mr. Payback managed to clear downtown. Kraquok from the Five fought and destroyed a trunk in the south end of the city.” She paused for a second and added: “Mindstar also fought a trunk and got into a telepathic battle with it. She confirms that there are a root and at least three more trunks in the city. Plus, a full-grown acre.”
“So, what do we do?”, asked the Snow Queen.
“We go down the holes the spiteborn left in the toy factory – they might lead us to their acre”, said Brennus.
“Agreed. Any objections? We don’t have much time”, affirmed Gloom Glimmer.
No one said anything.
They moved towards the toy factory. After a few moments, Hecate pulled him aside and said: “How come you didn’t warn us about the spiteborn? You’ve had your ravens around here for hours!”
Dumbfounded, Brennus tore his mind off of the visions he had seen (and the fleeting ideas he was still trying to deal with) and checked his records. His ravenbots had reported the scene. But he had not noticed it. What is going on with me?
“I honestly do not know. It… slipped my attention. Though I can not imagine how I could overlook this.”
She just gave him a dubious glance, but refrained from saying anything more.
* * *
“Anyway, weren’t there supposed to be more of you guys?”, asked Tyche, as the eight of them flew down the biggest hole the spiteborn had made into the floor of the former toy factory. Beneath they found a vertical shaft leading deeper into the bowels of the city. So, being the only one capable of flight, Gloom Glimmer was carrying them down in a force-field that was also supposed to make them invisible. Though they could still see each other.
Brennus, still a bit beside himself, heard Hecate slap her forehead with her hand. But she did not say anything, and neither did he. Not important, not now.
“We were five”, said Bakeneko in a slightly distorted, purring voice, her form now less cartoonish and more intimidating, now that she was focused on the mission instead of on trying to outclass the other girls. Subconscious shapeshifting? Possible. But usually not as smooth. “When the spiteborn attacked, one ran away. The others… didn’t survive”, she continued, her eyes downcast. Even with the monstrous form, Brennus could still make out Aimi beneath and he could tell that she was on the edge of a crying fit.
“I’m so sorry”, replied Tyche, now much more subdued.
They rode the rest of the shaft in silence.
When they reached the bottom, they landed in a tunnel large enough for a highway. It was completely dark, save for the light Gloom Glimmer was emanating.
Hecate asked: “Jeez, just how deep down are we?”
“1.21134 miles beneath sea level,” replied Polymnia.
“1.949462761 kilometers beneath sea level,” replied Brennus at the same time.
“And who dug a tunnel like this here?” she continued.
“This hole is at least fifty years old. Whoever made this was a professional“, said Polymnia, who had walked over to one wall of the tunnel and was now moving her speakers over them. Brennus’ sensors were picking up sounds in the ultrasound spectrum.
“The Diggerer”, Gloom Glimmer said. “My father told me about a nutjob contriver – and if my dad considers him a nutjob, you know he is an extraordinary example of such – who made it his life’s goal to create an underground adventure-world. He created giant drills and dug tunnels under most of the east coast before he was stopped and put into an asylum. Thankfully, he was stopped before he managed to do more than just dig these tunnels.”
“Wow, talk about a crazy life-goal. Did not see that coming”, said Bakeneko.
“As I said, if my father considers someone a loony…”, she replied.
“Either way, these tunnels should be pretty safe”, said Brennus, who had been running his own scans (as far as he was able to concentrate on the current situation). “And I can even tell where the spiteborn came from – acres are really hot and my sensors are picking up a major heat source down that way.” He pointed towards one direction. According to his map, it lead further east, under the ocean.
With a quick order, most of his remaining ravenbots (surprisingly few had been destroyed by the spiteborn) flew down the hole. Two settled on each of his, Tyche’s and Hecate’s shoulders and twenty more settled all around the group. One flew towards the heat source.
“Let us see what my ravenbot can find out”, he said as Osore and Polymnia (who were both very vulnerable to his ravens) looked at him worriedly.
“Good idea. But we should start moving either way – the faster we finish this, the fewer spiteborn can get away”, replied Gloom Glimmer – who did not seem concerned by the robots.
“Agreed.” So they started moving. After a few words, Polymnia agreed to carry the remaining twenty robots on her upper arms, so as to preserve their battery life. Brennus, likewise, shut down most of his armors functions. Interestingly, Gloom Glimmer touched down as well and walked on her feet.
His link to the raven told him that the tunnel went on for quite a while, before it suddenly cut off and the computer designated the raven as ‘lost’. He had not been able to see anything, even after it flew for ten minutes straight.
“My ravenbot was disabled or destroyed about thirty minutes down from here at our current pace”, he informed the others. “It was not able to pick up any useful information.”
“Then we should be ready for everything, right?”, asked Hecate, who was nervously fingering her staff.
“Quite so. Now, let’s be quiet, just in case”, said Gloom Glimmer.
Not that it helped much – neither Polymnia’s nor the Snow Queen’s suit were meant for stealth. But still, every little bit helps, I guess.
After about a minute, Polymnia moved closer to Brennus, walking on her own feet while two of her legs were helping her keep her balance. Wordlessly, she pulled a HDMI5-cord out of her keyboard and offered it to Brennus. Understanding her intention, he connected it to a port that snapped open in his left bracer.
<Polymnia: Hi. Wondered if you wanted to talk a bit. You know, exchange some ideas with a fellow gadgeteer😉.>
<Brennus: Gladly. I must say, I was quite impressed by your audio-system. Especially that sonic shield you put up – I did not know that was possible with actual technology.>
<Polymnia: Thanks for the compliment :-$. And you are right, the sonic shield was thought impossible – but I’ve been working on it since I manifested. I had just completed it two days before the fight.>
<Polymnia: Heh. But not as impressive as that stun gun of yours – I still can’t figure out how you worked that out :^).>
<Brennus: I had a bit of an inspiration while I was analyzing your sound system😛. I was able to translate some of the principles you used for your sonic shots to work for it. Was not able to make it work before and I had been trying to get it to work for quite a while😦.>
<Polymnia: Ha, at least there was something you could get out of my work. Would have felt bad otherwise, because I got a lot out of that robot.>
<Brennus: Huh? I was not really aware of anything really useful in them, apart from the chips I burned out – unless you somehow managed to recover them?>
<Polymnia: No, unfortunately not. But your work on the frames and the motors was great, as well as the way you solved the problem with the force transmission around bent limbs. I’m going to work those into the next iteration of my suit😀.>
<Brennus: Good. Power to us Gadgeteers😉.>
<Polymnia: On another note, I’ve got a pool running between Spellgun and me. My theory is, you either cribbed the design for those ravens from someone or you’ve been working on them for at least two months. Spellgun goes with Gloom Glimmer’s evaluation, that you did it all in a few hours :^).>
<Brennus: Wait, Gloom Glimmer was able to figure that out? How?>
<Polymnia: So you did do this in a few hours!? How!?>
<Brennus: Flash of inspiration. So, back on topic: How did Gloom Glimmer figure this out?>
<Gloom Glimmer: Psychometry.>
<Polymnia: You can patch into this?!>
<Gloom Glimmer: Sure I can. It’s not like I have anything else to do for now. Can’t reach the end of the tunnel with ESP, something – probably the root – is blocking me.>
<Brennus: You can patch into electronic communication without using technology? Because my scanners surely are not picking up anything electronic on you apart from your earpiece.>
<Gloom Glimmer: Heh. Jealous?>
<Brennus: You bet. I would love that, but I have not gotten to the point where I want to risk implants. Have not had time to work on them properly.>
<Polymnia: Good for you. I’ve heard way too many stories about Contrivers and Gadgeteers who just went and tried to turn themselves into cyborgs. It rarely worked out well.>
<Gloom Glimmer: You have no idea. When father wanted tell me a scary story, he just pulled out his recounting of some of the early contrivers and gadgeteers. Talk about Body Horror…>
<Brennus: Scary stories told by the Dark? You could make a movie series out of that premise😉.>
<Polymnia: Heh, can I play you, Glimmer?>
<Gloom Glimmer: Nah, I vote we put Spellgun in a dress for that. And Tartsche as the Dark…>
<Polymnia: That would make a very squicky porn movie, I think.>
<Brennus: How did our discussion move from technological issues to gay porn with incestuous overtones?>
<Gloom Glimmer: I have no idea :-$.>
<Brennus: … Ah, yes. Say, Polymnia, how do you power your armor? I am using a self-made battery, but it is already down to 38.1%. And I guess that your system drains much more energy than mine.>
<Polymnia: Probably. But I’m using one of Hotrod’s hyper-efficient car-batteries in my backpack, as well as the smaller ones for bikes in each arm and my keyboard. So I’m currently only down to 82.4%. Though I did not go to town on the spiteborn the way you did, so I can’t say if its due to my batteries being better than yours…>
<Gloom Glimmer: They are. Even when he joined the battle, his battery didn’t hold half as much reserves as yours do.>
<Brennus: Well, a shame Hotrod does not sell his more advanced stuff outside of the UH.>
<Polymnia: You could always just join us. I’d love to have someone I could really work with in the workshop.>
<Brennus: Nah, not my style. Besides, this way, we can be friendly rivals! You know, adversity is the best fuel for innovation.>
<Gloom Glimmer: Heh. My dad always says that. Mom threatened to shove one of her spears up his behind if he went and ‘corrupted’ me with that kind of idiocy.>
<Brennus: Just because he is a villain does not mean that he has to always be wrong. I mean, just look at all the innovation the Second World War accelerated, even made possible in the first place. Weisswald may have been a complete monster, but him prolonging the war is one of the reasons why we have had high-definition screens, lifelike prostheses and a colony on the moon since the beginning of the sixties. Not that I condone what he did, but the results of those times kind of prove my point, do they not?>
<Polymnia: On the other hand, it’s also the reason why we are walking down a tunnel to fight a bunch of twisted monstrosities that just want to kill every human being on the planet.>
<Gloom Glimmer: No bickering, please. Let’s focus on more agreeable topics.>
<Brennus: Right. There was something I wanted to ask – since you still have quite a bit of energy left, could you recharge my stun gun? Something tells me I am going to need it.>
<Polymnia: Sure, though I don’t know whether or not I actually have the right port for that…>
<Gloom Glimmer: Wait, I’ve got a better idea. Don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner. Hold still for a moment.>
The two did as ordered and Gloom Glimmer stood behind them, one hand on each of their backs. Lightning flashed in her eyes and hair and Brennus saw how his battery was recharged to maximum capacity. Then she grabbed the stun gun. Again, lightning flashed in her eyes and hair and when she handed it back, it was completely recharged as well. They immediately walked on.
<Brennus: Thanks. I needed that😉.>
<Gloom Glimmer: No problem. I’m going to ask the Snow Queen if she wants some as well.>
<Brennus: So she does use a power suit? Thought so.>
<Polymnia: Yeah, I’ve been supsecting that she’s some kind of contriver. It would explain a lot, actually.>
<Brennus: Personally, I think she just bought that suit along with the customization. Because, you see, I did some research and it turns out that she never used any kind of equipment other than simple off-the-rack body armour and guns, aside from her powers. So I guess that she can manifest and control that snow-like substance – and her armour provides protection and additional close combat options.>
<Polymnia: Couldn’t she just have been saving up for that? I mean, contriver or gadgeteer, we all need materials…>
<Brennus: I do not think so. You know how it is – when you start out, you pick apart anything you can find, then you build your first smaller stuff. If you are lucky, you find a way to finance bigger stuff, but until then, you use simple stuff made out of anything you can get your hands on. But she did not use anything that you can not just buy in a store before some time five months ago. So, my guess is that she has some inherent power – that snow – and that, when she had enough money saved up, just went out and bought that suit. I have even been able to find some similiar designs online.>
<Polymnia: You’ve put quite a bit of research into her. How so? And what was up with that comment of hers up above?>
<Brennus: Oh, me and the girls broke up a deal on our first night out. We managed to beat her – barely – and I heard that at least some of her business partners were arrested.>
<Polymnia: You defeated a B-List supervillain on your first night out?>
<Brennus: We kind of bushwacked her, and we had an exorbitant amount of luck and it was still really, really close.>
<Polymnia: How long ago was that? Because, seeing how you went to town with the spiteborn today, I could believe that you trounced her all by yourself.>
<Brennus: About a week ago. And as for my performance against the spiteborn – I still can not remember it. I had no idea I could do something like this.>
<Polymnia: That’s hard to believe. You don’t just have that kind of skill, it takes years of training!>
<Brennus: I only started training in martial arts a few months ago. I have never been in a fight before. But say, exactly how did I fight?>
<Polymnia: You fought like a madman. No defense, no restraint. Pure attack. Any time you were thrown back or blocked, you immediately rebounded and struck again, without letting up, like there was only an attack-command in your controls and someone had pushed the button down and glued it there.>
<Brennus: Huh. That is not how I usually fight. And that happened after I was hit by Osore’s attack?>
<Brennus: Wait a moment.>
He turned to Osore, who was walking a bit ahead of himself and said: “Hey, Osore. Could you tell me just how your power works? I am still trying to make sense of what happened earlier.”
The masked boy and Bakeneko both turned to him.
“And now you expect me to just tell you everything about my power?”
“Not necessarily. At least, answer me this: Does your power use the victims own memories or does it somehow show original ones?”
“Far as I know, it uses the victims memories. Dredges up the worst of them and forces them to relive them in full detail.”
“Huh. And how detailed are those memories usually? A continuous experience, or random fragments? Can you even tell.”
“I can see whatever they live through, if I want. Though I did not have a chance to look in on you, up to now it has always been a continuous, concise experience.”
“That… does not fit into my experience. I only experienced fragments – and whatever they were, they were fragments of memories I do not have.”
“Repressed memories, perhaps? There are crazier things in this world?”, asked Osore, slowly getting annoyed.
“I do not think so. Moreover, those were memories I could not have – because I saw someone I know, only in those memories, that person was younger than me, even though I know them to be older than me.”
“Well, dude, then I can’t help you. My power has never worked like that before”, Osore replied and turned away again.
<Brennus: Well, that told me exactly… nill.>
<Gloom Glimmer: It probably only makes it more complicated, but I tried scanning your mind for damage. For some reason, my power can’t analyze your brain. Like, at all. With your permission, I would like to try some actual telepathic probing, once we are done with the current problem.>
<Brennus: Thanks for the offer, but I would really rather not have someone I barely know go through my brains. No offense.>
Besides, I think I would be better off just asking Amy to take a look, he thought.
<Gloom Glimmer: None taken. That would be extremely invasive. But you really should look for someone to get a professional opinion on this.>
<Brennus: I will. I have some connections I can use.>
<Polymnia: Alright, enough with the psycho-talk. I’ve been waiting to ask this – what was up with that freaky blade you used?>
<Brennus: Huh… oh, you mean the I-51? I worked it out just this afternoon, when I was done with the stun gun. It is basically an ultra-thin strip of sharpened metal that I wear like a belt. And when I pull it out, I can channel electricity through it, causing vibrations that let it cut through most solid materials. But it drains my batteries a lot, which is probably one of the reasons they were so drained.>
<Polymnia: YOU MADE SOMETHING LIKE THAT IN ONE AFTERNOON!?>
<Polymnia: It took me nearly a year until I was done with my current equipment! The speakers alone took me four months! And you’re telling me you came up with and constructed a completely original invention in ONE AFTERNOON?!>
<Brennus: Yes? But it is hardly original, the idea has been floating around for quite a while.>
<Polymnia: Still, this is still too quickly! First you construct those ravens in a few hours, then a vibro-blade? What kind of rating do you have?>
<Brennus: I do not know. Really, I think the ratings are, all in all, meaningless. Whether I am a level 5 energy manipulator or a level 8 is not as important for how dangerous I am, as my actual skills. So I did not really bother to try and measure my power. Not that I know how to measure the rank of gadgeteer.>
<Polymnia: I’ll give you that, testing our power takes time. I only got my rating assigned three months ago – more than nine months after I manifested and started working. I’m a level 3 gadgeteer by the way.>
<Brennus: Huh? Going by your work, I would have said you were at least a four, maybe a five. But then again, that kind of illustrates my point. Your rating barely indicates your actual potential.>
<Gloom Glimmer: True enough. Now, shush. I think we are close enough that we all need to be as careful as possible.>
Polymnia retracted the cord and focused on her instruments. His sensors picked up a variety of ultra- and hyper-sonic sounds, all in frequencies that were unlikely to be picked up by organic senses.
As they were moving closer to their destination, Tyche suddenly contacted him on their subvocal comm-system.
<Tyche: So, how was your talk with your fellow geek?>
<Brennus: Quite interesting. Oh, I should probably mention that Gloom Glimmer can observe – and patch into – any electronic form of communication. So this is almost assuredly not safe.>
<Tyche: Great. Is there anything she can’t do?>
<Gloom Glimmer: I apparently can’t get people to shut up and concentrate.>
<Brennus: Ha. Alright, we will shut up.>
They advanced in silence as they could slowly make out a weak, white light further down the tunnel.
When they were close enough that they could smell the sweet stench of the acre, they got ready for combat. Brennus did a quick check of his stun gun and vibro blade, then readied his sticks. Tyche extended her staff, Hecate summoned her staffs power, making the gem glow weakly. Polymnia reconfigured the positioning of her arms just as the ravens took off and began to circle above the group. The Snow Queen went into a boxing stance. Osore drew a japanese longsword, a katana, from apparently nowhere and Bakeneko shifted into a more feral form (interestingly, her generous bosom vanished completely, probably to provide material for other parts). Gloom Glimmer stretched once and lifted off, her hair rising up and blowing slowly in a non-existent wind.
Then they stepped out of the tunnel.
* * *
The acre was located in what appeared to be a giant, artificial cavern underneath the sea. It was gigantic, almost twice the size of a football stadium – including the seating for visitors and all.
The entire cavern was covered in a sickly white substance that seemed to be somewhere in the middle between wax and flesh in appearance and composition. It covered both the floor, as well as the walls and the ceiling.
From this covering grew countless flower-like pods. Brennus knew that the branchlings grew inside these pods. And there were larger ones where the trunks would be grown in.
Also to be seen was a number of branchlings that had apparently fused with the substance that covered the cavern, with their limbs mostly withered away, but their heads and chest enlarged to grotesk proportions – turret-like defenses, probably.
Close to the middle of this acre stood two three-meter-tall, stocky humanoids. They appeared to be made of the same material as the branchlings, but their bodies were almost as wide as they were tall, their heads flat and misshapen. Their eyes were just as blue as those of every other spiteborn and their heads were covered in blond hair that reached down to their waists. Their hands were wide, with overly long, extremly thick fingers. Trunks.
Behind them stood a spiteborn root. It was, from the waist down, a mass of root-like tentacles, each between six and ten meters long. From the waist up, it looked like a beautiful, if overly endowed woman with sickly white skin, a perfect face, blond hair and blue eyes – only she was about four meters tall and her hands ended in vicious claws dripping with a black fluid – the same fluid that dripped from her mouth, which while not malformed, still drooled without pause.
But what was most disconcerting was the structure in the middle of the acre. At first glance, it looked like just another pod, only one that had grown a stem and was now hanging upside down from it. Like the other pods, its walls were transparent, but filled with the same black fluid that served as blood, drool and poison for the spiteborn. However, the flower-like structure that had grown around the base of the pod left no doubt as to what was growing inside it.
“A blossom. A fucking blossom, HERE?“, screamed the Snow Queen.
The root and the trunks turned towards them and, without a signal to be seen, the latter charged towards them just as the pods all over the cavern started spewing out more spiteborn. The root stood back.
“Everybody, defensive positions! Aim for the trunks, if possible. I am calling in every bit of help I can!”, shouted Gloom Glimmer.
The group got ready and Osore took the initiative to attack.
A black distortion formed around him. Whirling around him, it grew in size and then he threw his arms forward and it shot forward, spreading in a cone that would cover every spiteborn.
The beasts were hit hard – all the branchlings and both trunks started convulsing and screaming, dropping to the floor in instants. But what seemed like a great move turned disastrous as the distortion reached the root. Its beautiful face showed only a mild annoyance as it gathered the distortion around one of its hands and, with a flicking motion, threw it back at them.
It passed over the spiteborn, once more throwing them down, and hit the group head-on before they could react.
Vermillion blades, crawling…