Dive into the Night
The top of the golem’s head split open to reveal a large, gaping mouth as it placed the body of the bird Nightmare into its maw, before it swallowed it in one gulp. Leon took the opportunity to rush toward the golem as it was preoccupied with eating.
“Hey! Wait a minute!” the brown-haired man called out to Leon.
As Leon reached the golem, he was sent flying back as the Nightmare emitted a shockwave. Leon landed on his back several metres back from the creature, he looked to see the golem shaking and twitching. Large black wings sprouted from its back, its fingers also sharpened into claws. A black drill pierced the golem's maw from within as it quickly morphed into a bird's head. The bird head twitched for a second before settling down and gazing at the humans in front of it as it proceeded to let out an ear piercing screech. The colour of the golem’s main body also changed from a dull grey to a saturated red. Leon quickly rose to his feet as the bird golem charged forward to attack. The group scattered as the monster landed on top of them, the strength of the impact instantly created a crater. The katana-wielding man jumped back towards the Nightmare, he thrusted his sword forward as he attempted to go for the bird head. The Nightmare quickly swung its left arm upward, knocking the katana out of the man’s hand. It then threw a counterpunch at the man still in the air. Before the blow could land, both the blonde-haired girl and the light brown-haired man jumped in and blocked with their shield and greatsword respectively. Seizing the chance, Leon leapt from behind the Nightmare in an attempt to take its head. To his surprise, the girl with dark brown hair had the same idea as she leapt at the bird head with her arm blades deployed. They shared a quick glance before they were both knocked back to the ground by the bird golem’s wings. The two defenders managed to repel the bird golem’s attack, but they only had a second to breathe before the Nightmare charged forward for another attack. A large shining arrow flew in from the side of the creature, impacting it and exploding. The grey-haired boy summoned and launched another arrow towards the Nightmare before running to the other three. Leon and the arm blade wielding girl also rejoined the group.
“Oi Kaz!” the sword wielding man barked at the greatsword wielder. “This thing is nothing like that stupid bird we were fighting, what gives?!”
“It cannot be helped,” Kaz replied. “It has merged its body with that giant.”
“Yeah, I ain’t blind,” the sword wielding man then pointed at Leon. “And who the hell’s he?!”
Leon gave the sword wielding man a slightly irritated look, but Kaz turned to speak to him before Leon could respond.
“Unfortunately, I do not believe we have time for introductions right now. Seeing as you were here with this golem before we arrived, I would like to know if you have any advice in combating this creature.”
Ignoring the sword wielding man, Leon walked up beside Kaz. The bird golem had already recovered from the second arrow and prepared to charge again.
“Only thing I can tell you is that you’re going to need repeated attacks in the same spot to get past its tough hide. But seeing as it seems to have heightened senses, its not going to be easy,” said Leon.
The bird golem charged at the group.
“I can make due with that much,” Kaz replied. “Saya, on me!”
“Yes sir!” the blonde girl responded.
Saya ran up beside Kaz and held up her shield beside Kaz’s greatsword. The rest of the group scattered just as the bird golem slammed its arms down on Kaz and Saya. Leon dashed in and attacked the bird golem’s right arm alongside the sword wielding man and the arm blade wielding girl. Their combined attack flayed a significant amount of flesh off the golem’s arm; the flesh dissolving into black mist as it hit the ground. The bird head shrieked in pain as it swung its right wing in an attempt to crush the attackers. Instead the wing slammed into an invisible wall in front of the attackers. Standing several metres behind the attackers, the silver-haired boy held his hand towards the attackers as he channeled the barrier protecting them. Kaz turned his head as he continued to block the bird golem’s attack.
“Good call, Touma!” Kaz shouted. “Alright Saya, we’re pushing back this monster!”
Kaz and Saya gathered their strength and pushed the bird golem off of them, causing it to stumble back. Only about half of its right arm remained, the rest flayed off in the joint assault. Quickly recovering, the bird golem flapped its wings and slowly rose into the air. Leon hurled his spear at the Nightmare as Touma charged another light arrow. Leon’s weapon pierced the creature’s right wing, but it continued to fly. Touma let loose two light arrows, both of the impacted near Leon’s strike. The bird golem cried out as it fell back to the ground. As it hit the ground, the arm blade wielding girl dashed towards the monster’s right arm from behind; aiming for the joint connecting the arm and the shoulder. Seeing this, the Nightmare extended the bird head using its tendrils and sent it to attack the girl.
“May, to your left!”
Hearing Kaz’s warning, May turned her head to see the bird head flying towards her. She raised her arm blades to block the attack, but was still knocked back from the impact. Her shield shattered as she landed facedown on the ground, the Nightmare scrambled towards her. She looked up as the bird golem reached her location, its right fist already flying forward. Leon flew forward and parried the golem’s punch with a combination of his forward momentum and an upward sweep. As the Nightmare recoiled back from the parry, Leon transitioned into a throwing stance and hurled his polearm at the golem’s right shoulder. The speed and power of the impact tore the arm off and caused it to fall to the ground. As the Nightmare staggered back, the bird head screeched in pain again. As it did, Kaz, Saya, and the sword wielding man leapt in to follow up on Leon’s attack. Kaz slammed his greatsword into the bird golem’s left arm, while Saya and the sword wielding man began to hack away at the Nightmare’s legs. Leon turned around and offered a helping hand.
May nodded as Leon helped her up. She briefly repaired her Mana barrier as Leon dashed back into the fight. She then redeployed her arm blades and ran back into the fight. Meanwhile the other three were busy fighting the bird golem. Seeing an opportunity, the sword wielding man leapt up in an attempt to decapitate the bird golem. Noticing his attempt, the Nightmare grabbed the man out of the air and began to crush him.
“Ack!” the sword-wielding man cried out.
He heard the sound of his Mana barrier cracking. He struggled to get free, but the golem continued to its grip.
“Let him go!”
Kaz flew in from the Nightmare’s left side and dug his greatsword into the giant’s wrist, cutting deep into the creature’s flesh. Simultaneously, Leon landed onto the monster’s wrist from above. His weapon impaled into the Nightmare’s arm from a different angle. The combination attack tore the golem’s hand from its wrist, freeing the sword-wielding man. The bird head screamed in pain at the loss of its limb. As he landed, Kaz jumped beside him to check on his condition.
“Are you alright, Hayate? Can you still fight?”
“Who the hell do you think I am? I had that thing right where I wanted it before you showed up!” Hayate confidently replied.
“Glad to hear it," said Kaz, reassured.
Turning their gaze back at the Nightmare, Kaz and Hayate quickly dodged out of the way as the golem shot its tendrils at them through its missing arm. As it attempted to move, multiple glowing chains shot out of the ground and wrapped around the Nightmare, pinning it to the ground. Kaz turned his head and looked back at Touma.
“Thanks for giving me enough time to cast that.”
Kaz nodded in acknowledgement before turning back to Hayate and Saya.
“Alright, let’s finish this!” Kaz exclaimed as he charged forward.
The Nightmare broke off some of the chains as it lifted its upper body and swung its left arm at the trio. Kaz stood his ground and blocked the swing while Hayate slashed back, cutting of more off the arm. The creature raised its chest and fired black tendrils at Kaz, Saya leapt in front of him and parried the attack. Seeing the creature distracted, May leapt from behind towards the bird head. The bird head snapped 180 degrees and darted to attack her again, as it did the neck snapped back before the bird head was pinned to the ground. Seeing the spear impaled in the bird head, May briefly glanced back to see Leon several metres in the air diagonally above her. She then crossed her arms as she swung her blades, decapitating the bird head from the creature’s body. She followed up by stabbing her blades straight down into the golem’s body and hacked away several times. The Nightmare finally stopped moving as its body began to slowly dissolve into black mist. May jumped off the creature’s back and joined up with the others as they regrouped several metres away from the corpse.
“Good work everyone,” Kaz said as he looked at his arm. “Seems like we finished that Nightmare with a quite a bit of time to spare.”
Leon landed a couple metres beside the group, weapon still in hand. He turned his head and looked at the Nightmare, turning back after confirming its defeat.
Leon turned to see Kaz walking to the front of the group.
“First I would like to express my thanks for your assistance in defeating that Nightmare. Without your help, there was little chance that fight could have gone as smoothly as it did.”
“It was nothing, really. I just did what I thought was right in that situation. Is this… everyone else left in the Dream?” Leon asked.
“Unfortunately, as far as I am aware; yes. Before encountering you, we had been fighting every night in the Dream for roughly two weeks. I could only hope the fallen managed to find their way back to reality as Oire described.”
So these guys met Oire as well, I guess he really is a guide in this place. Leon thought to himself as Kaz continued talking.
“Oh, where are my manners? I believe introductions are in order. My name is Kazuya, but please just call me Kaz. On my left is Saya and Touma, and on my right is May and Hayate. And…?” Kaz said as gestured an friendly hand towards Leon.
“Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Leon. Now after seeing that impressive performance, I would like to invite you to join us in combating the Nightmare threat in this Dream.”