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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, '11, 5:16 pm
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The Evil Is Spreading

The purple-haired girl, the golden-haired girl and the braided woman finally make their way out of the crowd. They notice that all the accesses to the rounded square are blocked. After catching the glimpses of fireballs, they decided to break into the rounded square by force. As the girls jump one of the concrete blocks which were blocking their way, they meet an apocalyptic view. Hundreds of charred bodies scattered on the floor. The foul smell of burned corpses is disgusting. The girls soon notice that the telemental and the princess are at the center of the square, unharmed.

"Oh, my... what happened here?" The purple-haired girl screams in despair and confusion.
"No... that can´t be! I can´t believe that?" The braided woman falls on her knees, feeling an acute headache.
"What was that? Looks like it is telemental´s work."
"He murdered hundreds of innocent men! I can hear their souls speaking inside my head!"
"Innocent men? Do you mean the cloaked men are innocent?" The golden-haired girl looks suspiciously at the braided woman.
"Yes, they didn´t need to be murdered... why can´t you see that, Anna?"
"I can´t see it because if they were not murdered, Marlena would be dead now. How can they be innocent?"
"Anna, you just don't understand..."
"I've had enough of you, cloaked men lover. Let's meet Marlena."

The girls moved towards the telemental and the princess. The princess was on her knees, face buried on her hands, crying. She was shocked by the deaths of those men. She knew they didn´t deserve to die. She was shocked by the telemental´s actions and felt betrayed by him.

"What happened here?" The purple-haired girl, who arrived at the center of the square first, asked the telemental.
"I had to kill them, as they were threatening us."
"You didn´t have to kill them!" The princess screams in anger.
"You didn´t have to kill them!" The braided woman yells at the telemental. "Now I can hear their souls inside my head... I must pray for them..."
"Shut up, fools! I don´t want to hear about that anymore. You are all crazy! They would kill us. We must leave this planet immediately! I´m tired of these idiots, I´m tired of being ordered by a bunch of immature girls. Let´s get out of here immediately!"
"You have betrayed me!"
"Shut up, let´s go immediately. Either you come with me by your own will or I´ll force you to come with me."
"Hey, hey, who do you think we are?" The golden-haired girl grabs her slashers once again.
"You are getting on my nerves. Let's return to Algol immediately, we have finished our task here. If we were not delayed here, that would not have happened." The telemental looks at the braided woman, accusing her of delaying them.
"And you would have returned home without queen Marlena, you fool!" The braided woman answers, not a bit afraid of the telemental. "Anyway, if you plan to return to Algol, let's move, you have already slaughtered those innocent men, there is nothing we can do about them but praying for their souls."

The group left the square where the battle had happened. The streets were emptied, as citizens were afraid of the telemental. Soon they were crossing the city gates and returning to the plains which the city. The group walked several hundred yards through the plains. When they were far enough from the city to be seen by people, telemental chose a spot of the terrain that was still deserted as the place to perform the teleport. As the group arrived at the intended spot, the telemental ordered the girls to stop.

"I think we can teleport from here. Arrange the things inside the small circle I'll draw on the floor and be sure to stay inside it, otherwise you will be destroyed."
"This form of traveling doesn't look safe." The braided woman is uneasy.
"What do you suggest, so? That we flap our arms and start flying?"
"No, no, just be careful."
"This rascal almost got us killed when we were teleporting to this planet. Well, since we decided to come here, everything has gone wrong."
"Anna!" The princess reproaches the golden-haired girl, but the golden-haired girl ignores her.
"Well, looks like it will be the last time I'll see this planet..."
"Isn't it strange? I've felt the same days before. It is so strange to think you will leave your planet for the last time."
"Well, it is, queen Marlena, but it must be done, so I feel no regrets."
"Please, girls, get ready. Stay quiet, don't try to get out the circle. I hope the trip is not too long." The telemental starts focusing to cast the spell.
"Don't forget the gift I've given you. Use it to cast the spell."
"Oh, yeah, that stone. Do you really think it is useful? Or it is just a random belief, like fortunetelling."
"Trust me."
"What am I supposed to do?"
"Focus on casting the spell through it."
"Well, let's try, even knowing beforehand it will not work, what can I lose by doing that?"

The telemental focus on casting the spell through the pearl the braided woman has given him. The smoke rises from the circle much faster than usual and before they could realize what is happening, they are completely surrounded by the plasma circle. A loud explosion can be heard in the spot they used to be before. A huge fireball engulfed the place the group stood.

"Oh, my God!" The braided woman screams.

A loud crack similar to the sound of a lighting can be heard several miles above. The plasma bubble dissipates. The four girls, the telemental and their belongings can be seen floating in the air, descending slowly, as if they were parachuted from a rocket launch.

"What happened?" The purple-haired girl looks afraid.
"I had to cast a protection spell, lest we all would die." The braided woman calmly answers.
"Why?"
"The telemental did something wrong, I think."
"What is up with you, rascal? Do you want to get us killed? That was not the first time you blundered your teleport spell."
"Of course not, Anna. It is just that the spell was too strong. I've never seen such a strong teleport spell."
"You talk as if it hadn't worked, nothing would have happened to us."
"In fact we would be stardust."
"Oh, great!" The golden-haired girl rolls her eyes.
"Wow! You have saved us! Thanks! Your power is amazing!" The princess compliments the braided woman smiling.
"Oh, queen Marlena, I'm not so powerful..." The braided woman blushes.
"No, surely you are. Besides being a healer, you can also protect us from harm. That is fantastic!"
"Oh, my... won't you get us to the ground?" The golden-haired girl interrupts.
"I will, but we must be at least ten thousand feet high. Do you want to go down crashing?"
"If that would save me from seeing and hearing some things I'm seeing here now, I'd rather crash on the ground."
"Is that so? Well, then I can make your wish come true. Have fun crashing on the ground, Anna!"

The braided woman waves her hand lightly and instantly the golden-haired girl crosses the invisible protection and starts falling to the ground. The golden-haired girl releases a loud scream of fear as she speeds up. The other girls get desperate inside the invisible protection. Five seconds later, the braided woman closes her eyes, raises her rod lightly and the golden-haired girl stops falling. As the protection which holds the braided woman and the others touch the protection surrounding the golden-haired girl, she is taken inside the main invisible protection again.

"Are you crazy? What have you done? You tried to kill me!" The golden-haired girl yells at the braided woman, still shocked by the frightening event.
"I thought you mentioned you preferred to crash on the ground." The braided woman smiles to the golden-haired girl.
"That was really mean! You scared us all! Why did you do that to Anna?" The purple-haired girl is very worried.
"She knows why."
"Your witch! Did you find that fun? Let's see if you will find it fun when my slasher cut you in half!" The golden-haired motions to take her slashers.
"Hey!" The braided woman just raises her hand. That is enough to make the golden-haired girl stop, fearing the braided woman would send her crashing on the ground again.
"Cool off you two! The worst that can happen now is having you two fighting!" The princess tries to bring the girls into reason again.
"You are right, queen Marlena. Forgive me, Anna, I shouldn't have done that."
"That is not over yet."
"Please, Anna, be reasonable!" The princess begs to the golden-haired girl.
"I think it is time to do what I should have done long before." The golden-haired girl is angry, but she doesn't show any hints of anxiety.

They move slowly to the ground and after some minutes they finally land, exactly in the same place they were when the telemental cast the spell minutes before. The telemental starts preparing himself to cast the spell again. A furious golden-haired girl starts running towards the braided woman, who doesn't react. The golden-haired girl pushes her to the ground, climbs over her and starts punching her face.

"Your witch! Did you find that fun? Now let's see if you find this fun!"
"Stop it, Anna!" The princess cries in despair.
"I should have taught you a lesson before! How does it feel now? Don't you find it fun?"
"Anna!" The princess tries to pull Anna away, but she is too weak to pull the strong guardian. "Nei, help me!"
"Let's see how amazing you will look like with this pretty face completely broken."
"Anna, stop it, I beg you!"

The princess kept trying to pull the golden-haired girl away from the braided woman, but she was unable. The purple-haired girl arrived to help the princess and finally they both managed to pull the golden-haired girl away. The braided woman stayed lying on the ground, with her face bleeding by the wounds inflicted by the golden-haired girl punches. She never tried to defend herself from the golden-haired girl punches, nor she tried to counter-attack. She accepted the beating stoically, not because she wasn't able to react, but she just didn't want to react.

"Anna! Are you crazy?" The princess is desperate.
"I can't stand that witch anymore! She almost killed me!"
"But she apologized..."
"Who cares about her apologies? I wish we have never made to this planet!"
"Anna!" The princess leaves the golden-haired girl and walks to the braided woman. "Oh... by Laya... you are pretty beaten up..."
"I know. I think I deserved it."
"Why?"
"I 'didn't have the right to do what I have done."
"And she doesn't have the right to say the things she said to you."
"I don't care about what she says or does. I shouldn't have done that and that is enough." The braided woman starts getting up. "Well, let's go, if you still want me to go with you. If you don't, I can stay here. I've already healed you."
"Of course I want you to come with us! I want you to stay with me wherever I am. Let me tend your injures..."
"Don't worry, queen Marlena, I'll be fine..."
"No, please." The princess touches the braided woman's cheek lightly
"Damn!" The golden-haired girl curses as she sees the princess tending the braided woman in a loving manner. "Witch! Witch! Witch!"
"Cool off, Anna! You have gone too far with your stupid hate for her!"

The golden-haired girl grunted and freed herself from the purple-haired girl's hold. She placed herself inside the circle the telemental has drawn on the ground. The purple-haired girl followed suit and, after being sure the braided woman was not hurt beyond the visual injures, the princess helped the braided woman inside the circle. The telemental just ignored the fight. He preferred that way, so the attentions were not on him anymore.

The braided woman advised the others to keep their eyes closed during the teleport, otherwise they would end blind, as the fast speed this time would make their eyes collide with large amounts of light each second, burning their retinas. They decided to blindfold themselves, just to make sure no one would open their eyes by accident, so they took out some cloth straps and blindfolded themselves. The golden-haired girl was uneasy because she imagined it could be a trick of the braided woman to avenge the beating she had taken, but on the other hand she preferred that way, as she would not have to look anymore the princess hugging and comforting the braided woman, nor she would have to confront the compassionate stare of the braided woman. The braided woman was staring at her with compassion all the time while she was being punched and after that.

The telemental cast the spell through the pearl the braided woman has given him and soon the same fireball on the ground was repeated. This time, though, he was concentrated enough to make the teleport successful. Though they could not see, they could feel that the teleport speed was very fast. The purple-haired girl was thrilled about the ride, which she compared as an exciting rollercoaster ride. The princess was very worried with the braided woman, but the braided woman asked her to not stay so close, in order to not upset the golden-haired girl. So, the princess crawled towards the golden-haired girl.

"Anna..."
"Yes?"
"Why?"
"I don't want to talk about that, Marlena."
"Anna..."
"That is for you! I did that for you! Can't you see that?"
"No, Anna, you are just making me harm by doing that."
"I can't believe that! Tell me why!"
"You know why, Anna."
"Are you crazy, Marlena? Tell me it isn't true."
"Anna, please, you've got it all wrong. Stop acting this way. You harm her and you harm me too."
"Marlena, this woman, she acts in a strange way. You don't know her, you have met her three days ago. I know you owe her some consideration, for she has healed you, but she is doing things she shouldn´t to conquer your trust, to amaze you. Things that are not natural. Things that are not right. I think she has something to hide from us. She has plans of her own. You shouldn´t trust her, you shouldn´t let her feel as if she is your best friend."
"And what if it is me? What if it is me that loves her so much?"
"What?" The golden-haired girl is shocked by the princess words.
"What if it is me that wants that she is my best friend? She is amazing and you don´t know to which extent. She is fun, she is intelligent, she is good-hearted, I just love her ways. Don´t you know that she sacrificed herself to save her planet? Don´t you know that she sacrificed herself to heal me, to heal the man the telemental had murdered?"
"Marlena..."
"Oh, Anna, I know her for less than one week, but I also know you and Nei for just a few weeks. Even so, I have you both as my true friends because I know you are special girls, you are good-hearted, you are lawful, you are intelligent. I know that under your shell there is a good-hearted and altruistic lady. You are a tough woman, but you are fair, just and good. She is just another good woman. The telemental himself may be evil, though I believe he can be a good person if he really wants to. Anyway, you shouldn´t have beaten her up, poor girl, you almost broke her jaws."
"Oh, Marlena, leave me, you are doing more harm than good."
"Why are you always so upset by her?"
"Leave me, please."

The princess left the golden-haired girl, who stayed thinking about the princess´ words. She was uncomfortable to learn that she fell out of favor with the princess, who liked more the braided woman than her. She felt a bit envious and a bit of regret for punching up the braided woman, hurting her. There were many contradictory feelings inside her and she had to battle her own demons.

In just a couple of hours, a circle of smoke has risen from the desert ground of Motavia. Soon, the group was inside, safe and sound. The environment was very cold, as the energy drained by the spell was much higher than in the previous teleports, with a thin layer of ice covering a great extension of the rocky ground. The telemental was surprised by the enhanced power of the spell. They removed the cloth pieces which were blindfolding them. The princess was shocked by the state of the braided woman´s face, her lips and eyes swollen, lots of cuts and injures on her skin. Even so, she smiled. The golden-haired girl tried to avoid looking at the braided woman. She felt really bad when, spying the braided woman from the corner of her eye, she noticed that the woman was smiling at her.

"Oh, our rollercoaster ride has ended. But we are back home again! Yeah!" The purple-haired girl is excited of being back home again.
"Finally. Well, wow, I'm impressed. This pearl really made a difference. I´ve never seen such a strong spell. Without that, our trip could last weeks. Well, let´s get going..."
"Hey, telemental, where are we? Why aren't we at your cottage?"
"Well, Nei, I sensed something strange going on there, maybe some monsters roaming around. Nothing to worry, though. But let's not waste our time here."

The group picked up their belongings and started heading towards the telemental's cottage. The telemental lead the way, followed closely by the purple-haired girl. The princess and the braided woman followed, chatting. Behind all them came the golden-haired girl, in a terrible mood. They have found some crawlers, monsterflies and locustas on the way, but they were easily dispatched by the purple-haired girl and the golden-haired girl. The telemental didn't join the fight because he claimed to be exhausted from the teleport spell. For almost a mile walking, the path went almost smoothly with occasional interruptions of small biomonsters. When the group was crossing a low plateau, divided in two by a narrow valley, dozens of small monsters attacked them at the same time. They were not powerful enough, but as a result of the battle, the golden-haired girl ended alone in the right side of the plateau while the others stayed on the left side. Suddenly, dozens of small sandworms and monsterflies start attacking the group, encircling the group. They are easily dealt with, but other biomonsters keep on coming, trying to encircle the group.

On the right side of the plateau, two distinct opponents appeared. One magician fiend in a red robe, with a white rune painted on it and a shining blue light in her chest and one armored marauder, wearing a golden armor, a large axe and a glowing shield. Both opponents seemed to be extremely powerful. The magician started casting strong fire spells to weaken the golden-haired girl, while the golden marauder readied himself for a crushing blow to kill the guardian. The golden-haired girl released one slasher against each opponent, but though they hit them on the spot, both opponents seemed to be barely scratched by her attacks.

While the purple-haired girl and the braided woman managed to deal easily with the weaker monsters, the golden-haired girl was having one of the most difficult battles of her life. She had to evade the golden marauder blows and keep one eye on the magician fiend, who usually cast fire spells on her exactly when the marauder thrust his large ax. The golden-haired girl managed some minor hits on the marauder, but the effectiveness was limited, as he was wearing a very resistant gold armor. The magician had cast a barrier spell and went unharmed.

After some minutes, the golden-haired girl sustained many wounds and was feeling weaker. The small biomonsters were trying to encircle the group on the left side of the plateau, as they kept coming in a faster rate than the purple-haired girl and the braided woman could kill them. Noticing the golden-haired girl hopeless situation, as she was knocked down by a fireball, the braided woman ran towards the edge of the plateau and used her staff to pole-jump the gap between the two parts of the plateau. The marauder was about to cut Anna's body in half when the blow was detained in the air by an invisible barrier. The marauder staggered a bit with the force of the impact and that was enough for the golden-haired girl to return to her feet. The golden-haired girl was surprised to see the marauder's blow be detained, but as she looked at the braided woman, who was with her hands raised on the air, she understood. The golden-haired girl resumed fighting, but she could not score any decisive blow in neither of the opponents.

The braided woman started attacking the golden marauder with her staff, but her blows were not strong enough to cause significant damage. The golden marauder counter-attacked full force and the braided woman was barely able to parry and dodge the fiend's blows. The magician fiend, noticing the new situation, stopped aiming fireballs at the golden-haired girl and unleashed a strong wind attack towards the braided woman. The girl, who was having a hard time distracting the golden marauder, was hit by the magic and knocked down. The golden marauder ran to her and raised his arms to give a fatal blow on her.

The golden-haired woman sweats. She is watching the terrible scene as a mere spectator. She sees the opportunity to strike a decisive blow on the golden marauder, as he is distracted by the braided woman. She looks at the braided woman, who looks so frail, with her small body, her ladylike clothes. Yet, she is courageous and is facing two formidable opponents with no fear. She is ready to act, throwing both slashers at the marauder. One is supposed to cut the armor and the second to cut the skin and flesh left exposed by the first cut. She looks again at the braided woman and the negative feelings she has towards the woman come up again. She hesitates. "It wouldn't be too bad if she was killed, it would solve some problems..." Then she dismiss the negative feelings from her mind and throws both slashers.

The slashers fly on the air in such a speed that no one but her is capable to see their exact position. Only a whirring sound travels the air, confusing the opponents. The golden marauder is so focused on striking the other woman that he will never know what caused his death. As he is starting moving the ax downwards, the first slasher hits the armor that covers his neck, severing it. Almost instantly, the second slasher hits exactly at the same spot the first slasher has hit, severing the head of the golden marauder. His head only remains hanging on his body because of the armor on the other side of his severed neck, but he starts falling to the ground. As he was already moving his hands downward, the blows don't prevent him from finishing his blow on the braided woman, albeit weaker than the intended blow. The giant golden ax hits the braided woman's chest, splitting it open.

The golden-haired girl is terrified by the sight of such image and starts blaming herself for hesitating. The others couldn't see the scene because they were surrounded by small monsters. The golden-haired girl feels a pain on her chest, as if she had been hit by the ax. The ax remains stuck in the braided woman's chest, her face shows she is enduring extreme pains. The golden-haired girl kneels down beside her and tries to pull the ax from her chest. The braided woman holds her screams, though her face shows all the pain she is feeling. As the golden-haired girl successfully pulls the ax, blood starts pouring out through the wound and she realizes she had just made it worse. She presses her left hand on the wound, to slow the blood pouring out. The braided woman smiles at her and whispers "Watch out!". As the golden-haired girl turns her attention to the magician fiend, she sees him casting some black energy waves towards her. She uses one of the slashers to block most of the energy rays, but some of the black wave particles hit her, causing her pain. Before she can use the slasher again, the magician fiend casts the same spell again and she is obliged to use the slasher to block the energy wave. This cycle starts repeating itself each twenty seconds and the golden-haired girl becomes desperate, as every time she is hit by some particles that hurt her.

On the left plateau, more and more enemies surrounded the purple-haired girl, the princess and the telemental. The purple-haired girl ripped her claws through dozens of enemies, but they kept on coming on a faster rate than she was able to deal with. In minutes, they were completely surrounded and the enemies kept closing the circle. The purple-haired girl was killing biomonsters restlessly, but it was not enough and she became desperate because they needed to eliminate as many biomonsters as possible in order to open a breach in the encircling, so they could retreat.

"Hey, do something. I can't take them all alone!"
"But I'm exhausted, I can't help you."
"You both can help me. Use the legendary guns you have carried along with you all this time." The purple-haired girl cuts a monsterfly in four with her claws.
"But we don't know how to use them."
"Come on!" The purple-haired girl shouts as she decapitates two sandworms. "Marlena, take the gun and shoot it at the monsters, it can't be so difficult. You, telemental, can cut them with the sword."
"But... I don't know how to use a sword..." The telemental holds the sword loosely on his hands.
"And I don't know how to use a gun. I've never seen one before." The princess looks worried.
"It doesn't matter." The purple-haired girl kills another locusta. "Marlena, just aim at them and pull the trigger. And you, telemental." The purple-haired girl rips a monsterfly that had just stung her. "Just thrust the blade in their heads."
"OK, let's try."

The princess started shooting aimlessly with the neishot, but as the crowd of monsters is too large, she always managed to hit some. It was good strategically, but a tactical failure, as it didn't relieve them from the biggest threats. The telemental swung the sword clumsily and managed to dispatch only a few biomonsters. The purple-haired girl kept killing most of the monsters, and, with the help of her companions, they could, at least, slow the biomonster advance.

Back in the right plateau, the golden-haired girl keeps being hit by black energy particles and starts feeling weaker. Suddenly, blue sparks shine over her skin and she starts feeling better again. She looks at the braided woman while she waits her slasher to return from the blocking movement and the braided woman winks at her. The golden-haired girl whisper shyly. "Thanks". She keeps for some minutes receiving the same attacks and blocking the same way. When she feels weak again, the braided woman heals her one more time. This time the golden-haired speaks without looking at the braided woman.

"Why don't you heal yourself instead of healing me? You are dying there."
"I... can't... Not now..." The braided woman answers, with difficulty.
"I can't understand you."

After some more minutes, the things look bleak on the left plateau. The circle is so close on the telemental and the girls that they can barely move. It won't be long till the biomonsters finally overrun and slaughter them. The princess improved her aim and started helping more with her shots. On the other hand, the telemental soon got tired and his sword thrusts became less and less effective. He was defending himself more often than attacking.

On the right plateau, the golden-haired girl started to feel helpless. She felt that the braided woman felt weaker and weaker under her hand. If she released her hand from the braided woman, she could protect herself and attack more effectively, but that would make the braided woman bleed to death and she couldn't let that happen. Not now that she blamed herself for the braided woman injury.

She didn't notice that, slowly, the braided woman was moving her left hand. The braided woman took her hand to the ribbon tied in her hair, took out one pearl and buckled it on her staff. The golden-haired girl kept playing that terrible game of patience against the magician fiend, where most likely she would lose. Suddenly, she was scared by a huge explosion on the left plateau. Luckily, for her, the magician fiend was scared as well, so she managed to score a small hit on the magician.

On the left plateau, enormous electric discharges fell from the sky, annihilating the biomonsters behind the telemental and the girls. Though terrified, the princess saw that the explosion formed the breach they needed to retreat and put themselves in a better position. The biomonsters were terrified with the explosion and many ran berserk, attacking themselves, panicking, running away.

"Let's go, let's go, we can't lose this opportunity. Let's retreat!" The princess shouts, while shooting a group of sandworms.
"Yeah, Marlena, let's retreat and make sure they don't surround us again! Hey, stupid telemental, don't turn your back on them, let's retreat facing them, still fighting them."
"Damn, all I want is to get home." The telemental looks unconcerned with the battle.
"If you will not help, at least take our belongings!"
"Oh, Nei, how can you think on belongings in a mess like that? Let's just save our lives."
"Shut up and carry our luggage while we deal with these biomonsters."
"Oh my..." The telemental rolls his eyes.
"Whoever caused this explosion, he saved our lives."
"She saved our lives." The princess answers with a broad smile on her face.

The princess and the purple-haired girl start an organized retreat, killing the nearest biomonsters. The purple-haired girl is impressed by how fast the princess got used to fighting. The telemental, on his turn, was only taking care of the luggage, useless for battle. Most of the remaining biomonsters start chasing them, leaving the plateau filled with carcasses of dead biomonsters.

On the right plateau, the golden-haired girl regains focus on her own battle. She sees from the corner of her eye that the braided woman had raised a bit her staff.

"Was it you?"
"Yes..."
"Oh, why didn't you tell me you were able to do that?"
"I have... to plan... carefully... to not... run out... of magic... powers..."
"I think I understand. Rolf used to say the same about his techniques. Well, if can do something about this situation, please, do it. I can't fight this fiend with only one of my slashers."
"I... know..."

The golden-haired girl resumes her old game with the magician fiend. After two or three attacks partially blocked, the golden-haired girl felt a grip on her left hand. The braided woman pushed the golden-haired girl's hand from the wound, leaving it open, bleeding.

"No!"
The braided woman just jerked her head towards the slasher which was laid on the ground.
"Why?"

The braided woman just smiled. The golden-haired girl grabbed the other slasher and started attacking the magician fiend. With careful planning, now she managed to block all the energy wave and eventually hit him, but his magic barrier was too strong, so the hits didn't bother him much as the slasher otherwise deadly hits barely scratched him. The golden-haired girl felt that the game had changed. Now she was the one who would have the advantage if nothing new happened. She could keep the game going for hours, days. But she knew she didn't have all that time left because the braided woman was dying. No matter what she tried to do, the fiend would receive just light blows.

The fiend, though, was not content with the current battle setting and changed his strategy. He started aiming fireballs at the braided woman. That made the golden-haired girl adopt a defensive position, positioning herself in front of the braided woman. The fiend started aiming the fireballs at her instead, so both started exchanging blows. With this strategy, both the golden-haired girl and the magician were hit by stronger blows. The golden-haired girl was feeling pain, but was not so concerned about being hit. Another fact made her feel desperate. She started to hear the sound of biomonsters coming to attack her and the braided woman.

The golden-haired girl was feeling weaker, her reflexes were not so fast as before. The magician was feeling weaker as well, but was still a formidable opponent. The golden-haired girl was desperate, but she had nerves of steel while fighting, so she was still able to score perfect hits on the magician fiend. She felt that she needed three hands and slashers to finally kill the fiend.

During one of the hits, as soon as she threw the second slicer, she saw some object flying over her shoulder, like an spear. The first slasher hit the magician fiend on the chest, but the magician partly parried it with one hand, using a magical protection. The second slasher hit him on the side of the head, but she also partly parried it. Then, the spear hit him rightly above the nose, flying through his skull. The magician fiend fell on the floor dead.

The golden-haired heard also a loud thud behind her. She looked back and saw the braided woman laid on the floor with her back up, in a different place than she was laid before.

"What was that?"
"I felt... as you needed... a... helping... hand..."
"Right on the spot!"
"Could... you... retrieve... my staff?"
"Of course, but let's take you out of this place before."

The golden-haired girl knelt beside the braided woman, grabbed her with her left arm and put her hanging over her left shoulder, holding her.

"Luckily you are the smallest and lightest of us all."
"Oh, I don't know... whether I should... take this as... a good thing... or not."
"In this case, it is."
"Oh, thanks, Anna" The braided woman laughs a bit, then speaks seriously. "Thank you... for protecting me... saving me..."
"Please, don't thank me. Let's hurry, you are weak and the monsters are coming."

The golden-haired girl walked towards the magician fiend corpse and found the braided woman staff some yards past it. She grabbed the staff and gave it to the braided woman, who could barely hold it. Then, the golden-haired girl caught a glimpse of a large group of biomonsters of the same kind of the ones who attacked the telemental, the princess and the purple-haired girl before, coming to their direction. She gently placed the braided woman on the floor and readied her slashers. To her luck, her weapon was the most effective against a large number of weak enemies, as each slasher could slice several biomonsters each throw. When the biomonsters were close enough, she threw her slashers, killing large numbers each throw. Her attacks were so effective that she was able do dispatch the whole group before any of the biomonsters could get close to her.

Before resuming the journey, the golden-haired girl examined the terrain and decided that they would be better protected if they walked through the valley as they could not be seen by opponents, lest the opponents walked very close to the cliff. She started dragging the carcasses of the biomonsters together to form a large barricade at the easiest access to the valley, picked up the braided woman again and they started walking through the valley, trying to reach the telemental group.

The telemental group had advanced in a fast pace, as the retreat strategy proved to be effective. The princess and the purple-haired girl managed to dispatch every biomonster who dared to come close to them and their numbers were diminishing considerably. Sometimes they would find some major biomonsters roaming around the desert, but the princess would easily finish them off with one or two shots of the powerful neishot. Though it was a heavy weapon and the princess made a great effort to carry it, it didn't take any effort for her to use it other than aim and pull the trigger, so the princess had got used to it very fast. After about one hour, most of the biomonsters were killed and they finally reached the telemental's cottage. The telemental hurried inside, while the girls killed the last threatening biomonsters.

The golden-haired girl's path was much harder. She had to carry the dying braided woman and she had to fight alone the monsters. Besides, she didn't know where she was and she just followed the path of biomonster carcasses left by the rest of their group. The golden-haired girl dealt with small groups of monsters without stopping, but sometimes large swarms of biomonsters appeared, so she left the braided woman resting in a safe place and fought the groups alone. Many times she ended wounded by the biomonsters, but she protected the braided woman the best she could. The braided woman, though very weakened by the blood loss, managed to defend herself with her staff the few times a biomonster crept up near her. After each large battle, the golden-haired girl built barricades with biomonster's carcasses to slow their advance.

After they exited the valley, it looked like the large swarms had quit chasing them, so the golden-haired girl concentrated in finding the telemental's house. She kept carrying the braided woman hanging over her shoulder. Every minute she felt the braided woman weaker. The golden-haired girl dress was soaked by the braided woman's blood. The braided woman shivered and moaned in pain.

"I'll find Nei, Marlena and the telemental and hopefully we will be able to heal you." The golden-haired girl said with a serious and worried tone.
"Don't... worry... too much... about me..."
"I can't leave you to die. I hope you can forgive me."
"Anna... everything... is alright... for me..." The braided woman touches some of the golden-haired girl wounds, healing them. She touches every scratch and superficial cut in order to heal them, as if she was retouching a painting.
"Why don't you stop doing that and heal your wounds? I don't need you to heal every scratch in my body."
"Don't... worry... Anna..."

The feeling of holding the frail body of the braided woman, coupled with the demonstrations of her courage and her sacrifice made the golden-haired woman start feeling empathy for the woman she used to hate. By seeing her actions, the golden-haired girl realized that the braided woman was not evil, otherwise the braided woman would not sacrifice herself for her. She felt a deep regret of hesitating when the braided woman was in danger, because that hesitation could cost the braided woman's life. She couldn't understand some of the braided woman's actions, like her refusal to heal herself, but that was not what she had in mind. The only thing she had in mind was that she had to protect that woman.

After walking a quarter mile without being harmed, the golden-haired girl spotted a large group of biomonsters and fiends gathered together in one spot. She tried to avoid being seen by the group, taking the other way, but she noticed another large group of biomonsters and fiends on the other side. She realized that the only way to progress avoiding the groups would be sneaking between them. It was a huge risk she had to take. She tried to crouch a bit and move slowly, but it was a difficult task while carrying the braided woman. Even so, she managed to walk for long without being attacked. The path lead to a small rocky bridge. When the golden-haired girl stepped on the bridge, it cracked under her feet, sending her and the braided woman rolling down the sandy wall of the elevation they were in. When they arrived at the bottom, the golden-haired girl noticed that they were surrounded by thousands of biomonsters and fiends. Unilke the monsterflies, sandworms and locustas, all these enemies looked more powerful.

"Oh, no, it was a trap! What will we do? What will we do now?" The golden-haired girl lost her usual coolness.
"Hm... mm..." The braided woman, who fell with her face to the ground, tries to reach her ribbon, but she is so weak that she can't move her arms properly.
"What?" The golden-haired girl kneels down beside the braided woman in order to try to listen what she is trying to say.
"The... red... one..."
"Red?"
"Red..."
The golden-haired girl looks at the enemies and they are closing slowly on them. "Red what?"
"Pearl..."

The golden-haired girl remembers that the braided woman wears a ribbon with pearls on her hair and starts searching for the red one. She finds many pearls with orange and red tones.

"Which one? There are many red ones."
"The... pure... red..."

The golden-haired girl takes the pearl she considers more closer to the pure red color and hands it to the braided woman. The braided woman makes a huge effort to move her arms in order to buckle the pearl in her staff.

"Now... open... a... small... breach..."
"OK."

The golden-haired girl starts attacking the enemies surrounding her by throwing her slashers continuously at the same direction. With her attacks, the biomonsters and fiends get angry and start speeding towards her. She looks at the braided woman, who seems to be mumbling something. She keeps attacking, but as the enemies get closer, she feels a rare fear she is not used to feel.

"What will we do now?"
"Run... through... the... breach..."
"Run?"
"Run!"

A deafening wail comes from the sky. A giant gray, purple and red dragon, which came out of nowhere flies over the battlefield. As it flaps his wings, the girls, the monsters and the fiends feel strong gushes of wind. Every monster turned its head to look at the menacing dragon. The golden-haired girl also looks at the sky, frightened. The braided woman taps lightly on the golden-haired girl's ankle.

"Run!"
"Oh... yeah..."

The golden-haired girl grabbed the braided woman and she started running out of the encircling of monsters. The golden-haired girl was unable to open a breach, but she ran to the direction she had previously thrown her slashers and resumed throwing her slashers in order to open a breach. As most of the monsters and fiends were paralyzed with fear, she managed to advance, wiping out the monsters in front of her. The braided woman helped by using her staff to prevent the monsters and fiends to attack them from behind. In the sky, the dragon was absorbing energy, generating a huge blue energy ball in its large mouth.

"Don't look... just run..."
"Alright."

The golden-haired girl managed to exit the encircling and kept running away. Some of the monsters and fiends, in panic, started running, some giving her a chase. A loud crack was heard in the sky and the dragon released a blue energy beam over the large group of monsters and fiends. As the energy ray hit the ground, it had the impact of a nuke, leaving a large crater and annihilating all the monsters in the vicinity of the explosion. Air waves generated by the explosion hit the other monsters throwing them miles away from the impact. The energy waves hit the golden-haired girl and the braided woman, but the braided woman had cast a protective magical barrier, so, though they were sent rolling down the sand dunes, they were not shattered by the air waves like the other monsters.

As they came to a stop, the golden-haired girl was stunned. She closed her eyes for some seconds and then tried to stand up. She staggered a bit, lost her balance and fell on the sands of the desert. She waited some seconds more and tried again. This time, she managed to keep her balance. She started looking for the braided woman, who had stopped several yards apart. The golden-haired looked at her surroundings and noticed they were on the top a sand dune. From there, she caught a glimpse of a house. The sun was setting and the lights were on. She wondered if that was the telemental cottage. Also, she could see many corpses and carcasses of fiends and monsters who had been thrown by the force of the explosion. Turning away, she also discovered were the braided woman was. She saw a trail of blood leading to her body, under which a small pool of blood had formed. She ran to the woman in despair, thinking she could be dead, but was relieved to see that she was still breathing.

"It is over! There are no monsters nearby. I can see a house from here, we may find shelter there."
"Mmmm... mmm..." The braided woman could not speak.
"Let's take you out of here!"

The golden-haired girl took the braided woman on her arms and started climbing down the dune, in the direction of the house. The braided woman stared at her, gave a faint smile and passed out. The look of the frail body of the braided woman on her arms, almost dead, with her face severely injured by the golden-haired girl's own punches, but yet smiling at her was too much for the golden-haired girl. She started weeping, regretting all the mean things she had done to the braided woman. "Marlena was right, you are really amazing, girl. If it was not that thing between you and her, I'd say you were not only showing off as I've told you. You are really perfect."
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