The answer is in front of you.
It was getting hard to breath, the air was frozen, my muscles struggled to move. Moisture in the air clung to my fur and froze immediately, forcing me to wipe away the quickly forming layer of ice. It was so cold, and I was growing so tired. The cold bit down into my flesh, it gnawed at my muscles and dug into my bones. Salus was now an abomination of ice, his form now covered by countless fractals, acting as armor. His power has overwhelming, I couldn’t see how Daniel and I were supposed to defeat him, or at the very least last long enough for Slim to return. Escaping wasn’t even an option. The few windows in the room were covered in a thick slab of ice, same for the entrance to the room.
Daniel and I would bound in to try and flank him but his barrier would only erect spikes that would fly towards us. This fight was becoming hopeless. There were no openings, no chance of attrition, no chance of even landing a scratch. But then my eyes began to see things differently, this feeling this fight gave me felt very familiar. I remembered, I remembered myself in this situation of hopelessness before, surrounded by the flame, by my allies side, I was next to Garfas. I was ripped out of my memories as I saw a spike of ice fly towards me and I barely managed to evade.
How did we survive? I thought. I needed to remember that detail, I felt as if the key to my survival and Daniel’s was in that memory. Somewhere, I needed to find it soon or Salus would freeze us to death or worse.
“Holding back are we?” said a hoarse voice within my head.
Fumus? There was no mistaking it, it was his voice, was this a memory? Was this me remembering his ramblings?
“You’re so good at puzzles, cub.” Said Fumus. “Why can’t you solve this one? The tools are right in front of you, or could it be that you are not aware that you posses such tools?”
I swept off another coat of ice forming in my shoulders and dived out of the way of another volley of spikes.
“Cease your futile efforts, Anavari,” Salus’ voice echoed with unnatural humming. “Stop moving out of the way and die already!” the hulking mass of ice faced me, a set of glowing blue eyes pierced into me and swept his hands towards me. A massive volley appeared and came at me like a wave of thousands of miniscule blades.
“Anavari!” I heard Daniel shout from the other side of the room. There was no time, and I acted instinctively. I splayed my hands towards the ice. I became enveloped by energy, it was not emerald, however, nor was it the black safety of my death shroud. It was soft, white, yet it formed a hard shell around me. It spiraled around me, coiling me. This thin mist was protecting me, like armor. Where did this spell come from? Unless…
I’ve forgotten my spells as well… My realization was cut short as the shards of ice crashed into me, instinctively covering my body the shards crashed into my layer of spectral armor. They shattered on impact, taking in most of the damage, though I could still feel them like heavy blows being dealt to me. I was alive however.
“Nice start but you won’t be able to kill him with a shield alone,” I heard Fumus ring in my head.
“I know that,” I hissed under my breath. “I can’t break through his defense, though.”
“Who ever said you needed to break through?” said Fumus. “Associating with that lumbering oaf has given you some bad habits, my son. All you need to do is slip into the cracks. Is his defense airtight I wonder?” My eyes widened. I gathered my magic and charged in. I released a bellowing roar as I bounded towards the elementalist. Another volley of ice came at me, out of another instinctive impulse I shot my hand forward and suddenly a wall of bone appeared before me, the wal absorbed the damage but quickly crumbled. I was able to run in closer, out of the corner of my eye I could see Daniel running in as well. Our eyes met, we were both aware of the strategy.
Another volley was sent at me, I swept them away with my arm, feeling a few crack through the armor. Daniel was nocking another arrow into his bow, I could see the small flickering wick on it. I leaped in and took a deep breath. As soon as I latched on to Salus’ shoulders I released a loud roar, the poison that had been filling my body was released all at once. I was a bit dizzy from the release, but I was able to maintain my composure long enough to retreat before Salus could retaliate.
I stumbled to my feet barely able to avoid the small blades of ice salus sent out in all directions as a result of my attack. That was when Daniel appeared. While Salus was thrashing about, unable to move from his spot and struggling from the poison in the air, daniel released his arrow, the explosion that came after knocked Salus down entirely.
“Good,” Fumus’ voice continued to ring in my head. “That’s my cub.” I shook my head to try and ignore his voice. Was his appearance part of my own delusions or was it a part of the spell on me? Was I helping myself in my own time of need?
“Excellent performance so far,” said Fumus. “But it shows that you are holding back. Why do you restrain yourself?”
“Shut up!” I hissed under my breath. “I’m doing my beast!”
“Are you really?” Fumus was really pushing me over the edge right now, strangely it helped. The cold in the room wasn’t as noticeable, my magic burned brighter, and it actually helped shrug off the chill. My movements became faster, the adrenaline pumped through my body and I become more responsive.
Salus is stunned, go in for another attack.
I lurched forward with my blade in hand. My actions mechanical, following a rhythm. Taking hold of the flow of the battle and arranging the next moves accordingly. As I advanced on my own accord Salus sprung back up, some of the ice had fallen off his face, revealing his visage, he only appeared slightly irritated. The ice quickly reformed around him and he slammed his armored hands onto the floor. A wave of spikes came at me, I noticed that Salus had begun to focus on me and not Daniel, which was good.
Change plans, circle around and get in close enough for a ranged attack.
I followed the plan and ran in evaded addition attacks sent to me, rolling past or simply moving around the ice Salus would send in. It was a continuous dance to simply get close enough, y now my armor was withering away so I could not afford to get hit again. Salus was making my approach difficult but it was imminent. After bounding over yet another column of ice I raised my hand and called down upon a pillar of darkness to strike at the humans deffense. He staggered noticeably, and I reacted by sending out a jagged hand towards him, the projectile dug into the ice and did enough damage to make the armor fall off. Immediately an arrow landed on the vulnerable area on Salus’ shoulder and pierced the armor. Daniela and I retreated as Salus released a blast of cold air to force us to back off.
“We’re wearing him down,” said Daniel. “But I’m down to two explosive arrows, we need to make them count.”
“Understood,” I said. “I’ll work on reducing his defenses, you work in dealing the damage.”
“Be carefull, big guy.”
I bounded towards Salus yet again, this time his attacks had changed. A tendril of water had emerged from the floor, the very edge had frozen into a sharp blade and it stabbed towards me. I quickly drew out my sword and blocked. The blade of ice came hammering down on me repeatedly.
“You’ve proven more difficult than most, Anavari,” said Salus. “But you are still a mere fledgling. I’ll strike you down like every other before you.” Salus manifested three more blades of ice and sent them out towards me, I batted away the blade in front of me and I dived back in, avoiding all the attacks that came down on me. The tendrils of water would stab at the floor and be stuck on the ground. I would hack at the tendrils with my sword only to have them dissolve and reconstitute themselves.
Ignore them, move to Salus.
I sprinted to Salus, charging a spell in my hands. I splayed my hand towards salus while batting away another attack with the other. A small sickle rolled past my fingertips, infused with my spite and anger. The blade traveled to Salus, gliding towards his armor, dancing around it like a leaf in the wind, shattering the ice in various areas. Daniel reacted quickly and sent out a volley of arrows, an explosive arrow was amongst them. The explosion was enough to completely shatter most of the elementalist’s armor. He was launched backwards, his tendrils withered into puddles of water as the blizzard in the room subsided.
“Is he down?” called out Daniel.
“I believe so,” I replied, not removing my gaze from him. “He’s not—” Suddenly the ice immediately grew back onto Salus’ body, the blizzard returned at an unbelievable intensity. The human began to levitate as more ice began to form, rooting him to the ground, covering him more and more. Until he was a behemoth composed entirely of ice.
“I’ve wasted enough time with you two,” said Salus. “No more holding back, you two get to see my full power!” A wave of pure energy blasted both Daniel and I back. We crashed into the wall of the room, despair began to fill our souls as we found no way out.
“Any plans?” asked Daniel trying to hide his fear.
“I…” I stammered. “I don’t…” I trailed off as I began to remember small fragments of the encounter. Where garfas and I fought off the flame legion. How did we survive? I was out of ideas, out of spells, out of hope. But I wasn’t out of power. “I have one more idea.” Keeping a firm grip on my sword. I spin the blade then pointed it towards Salus.
“What are you planning?” asked Daniel with concern.
“I’m going to bring down his armor, have your last arrow ready.” I said as I entered my death shroud. “Make it count.” Daniel composed himself, nodded, and readied his bow.”
I charged in. This time Salus was throwing everything he had at me. I leaped and dodged past what I could, I allowed my shroud to block what I couldn’t. His water blades came at me, I cut past them. The moment was coming, this would either barely work or it would end in disaster. I wanted to fight for this however. I wanted to live so that I could see Daniel through this. Because if I had a reason for fighting, it would be for him.
I was close enough to leap to Salus now, to dive in and impale my blade into him. He saw what I was trying to do and raised his arm to block. My blade sunk into the ice, that was when my plan began. I began to channel my life force into my blade. The life force ceased enveloping me and shot across the blade, sending wave after wave of volatile energy. It came out in small uncontrolled bursts, each small blast chipping off move and more armor.
Fifty percent life force. The ice on his arm shattered and stabbed into his chest. I began to beat down the armor with every pulse of energy.
His armor was almost gone, he was almost exposed! But my life force, I couldn’t channel it anymore. I looked at my blade, the flow of shadow wasn’t traveling through it.
I still have ten percent! I thought Why can’t I use it?! Why? Why? WHY?!
“You’re going to pay for that Anavari,” said Sauls as small rivulets of blood trickled past his armor. “Now let me show you how we check if someone is a heartless.” Salus’ other arm seized me, raising me above the floor. His massive icicle hands dug into my flesh. His palm lay flat at the very center of my chest. A thick slab of ice that was created by his form. Suddenly I felt something prod me.
Intense pain began to overtake me as a massive spike began to dig into my chest. I immediately coughed out blood as I roared, trying to escape, trying to grasp at my fleeting life. The shard dug in, but suddenly stopped, then Salus opened his palm and shot out the spike from his hand. Sending it all the way in, puncturing my body. I was launched back along with an additional spray of shards digging in to my flesh, I was crashing back into the wall with violent force. There was ice everywhere, thousands of thorns had sank into my arms, chest, and one massive spike poking out at the very center. Blood was pooling underneath me.
“ANAVARI!” Daniel was next to me, but I could barely see him, my vision was blacking out. I was fading quickly. I could see glimpses of his face, tears streamed down his cheeks as he hesitantly held me.
“I shall give you a moment to mourn,” said Salus from across the room. “Then I shall finish you off as well.”
“You’re fine,” said Daniel as his gaze trailed down the large spike in my chest. “You’ll be fine.” He kept repeating it over and over as he held his head.
“Daniel,” I managed to say. I searched my power, trying my best to cast a healing well, or any sort of magic. Anything that would revive me. I couldn’t however, my mind was getting darker by the second. “Please don’t cry.”
“Anavari,” the human sank into my shoulder as he sobbed. “don’t leave me please.”
“I just… need you… to escape,” I said. “get out of here Daniel. He’s too strong.” I gave the human a smile as I placed my forehead against his. I didn’t know how to console him, I was still trying to process everything myself. I couldn’t leave him alone, to die in the hands of Salus. I couldn’t, but I had no choice. My mind was descending into darkness now, giving me a flash of one of my memories with Garfas, possibly my last.