Chapter 38:

Leaders Aren't Loud

Adventures of Zeleon

Another day, another creature to slay. That's pretty much the Guardian way. Today was no different as Leon and Maeva linked up to face a terrifying beast that's been stalking humans fetching water from a large river that spans many miles from a water inlet.

"Forest pouncer. It's my understanding that it's a large praying mantis?"

"I believe so. Earth culture isn't my expertise but if they're green insects that jump prey when they least expect it, then yes, that's your equivalent."

"Oh boy. This isn't going to be fun then. They'll take things as big as they are. How big do they get?"

"Ten feet on average, bigger ones get to fifteen. But based on the reports, it's average sized. Which is possibly worse, that means it'll stay hidden easier."

"Any idea how to lure it out?"

"Bait!" Maeva seemed too excited about the idea, making Leon visibly drop a bead of sweat.

"You mean me don't you?" He asked, glancing at her suspiciously.

"Well you are bigger, and you're not wearing green like I am." She giggled softly.

"I'm not the sidekick but I'm being teased like one….damn role reversals." Leon sighed as they got close to the river. "So what's the pla…"

Maeva had already hid herself away somewhere leaving Leon a sitting duck. "Come on, really!"

Leon sat at the side of the river looking over it, seeing fish swim through. The only sounds were the gentle breeze flowing through the trees and the splashes of the river. Making for quite a tranquil environment despite the pending danger that could arise at any moment.

Leon suddenly heard a rustle that made him jump to his feet and draw Silva. Maeva came running through the bushes with a look of terror on her face. "POUNCERS!!!" She exclaimed.

"W-wait, Poun-CERS?! Multiple of them?!"

Yes! Three actually!" Maeva ran back next to Leon as the three made their way out to the bank. They looked like mantis' but their jaws were much better developed and the hooks on their legs were more like large knives than barbs.

"They hunt in packs usually?"

"No, they're actually solitary!"

They worked as a very effective unit. Two of them flanked either side of Leon and Maeva while one stood tall in the middle, pressing them to the river.

"Well, this is karma for you ditching me. Except I'm caught in it. You think you could take off the middle one's head? That's our only chance to not get pushed into the river."

"Sure thing, bossman!"

"That's a poor way of trying to get on my good side.."

Leon drew in the two Pouncers, as he stepped back into the water to draw them out further.

Maeva moved in, making a swift dodge of the Pouncer trying to rake her into its mandibles. She hopped onto the back of it's neck and used her paired blades to cut off the head. There's a small problem however, the blades aren't enough to cut through.

"Leooooon! It's neck is too thick!" Maeva exclaimed as the Pouncer tried shaking her off.

"What?! Aww dammit…."

Leon activated the lightning element, jumping out of the water to make sure he didn't electrocute the river, and used his Blitz Movement. Like a bolt of lightning he was through the Pouncer Maeva was on in an instant. Cutting its head off like it was made of cake.

The Pouncer's body fell, with Maeva quickly hopping off of it looking at Leon with a sad face. "I'm sorry…."

Leon took a deep breath. "It's fine, just don't leave me like that again."

"I promise."

The moment of distraction led to a horrific sight before them. The other Pouncers were eating their dead comrade!

"I knew they were cannibals, but this..? They were just working together." Maeva said as she struggled to watch the scene.

"Loyalty means nothing over food to them obviously. Well, let's get them while they're distracted. And I'll likely have to get rid of the bodies too. So more don't congregate." Leon stated.

With the Pouncers distracted, Leon was able to cut off the head of one of them, while Maeva stabbed the eyes of the other. The pair reconvened to try to find a safe way to get rid of them.

"Fire is out of the question." Maeva said. "We're in the forest and that might cause issues.

"What about burying them?" Leon responded.

"Ohhhh! That's not bad!

"I might need to uproot trees so nothing can go digging for them…."

"I can revive the roots, it'll work!"

Leon used Silva's earth element to move the ground up, making the trees uproot for a moment while earthly hands moved the bodies about twenty feet under before replacing the ground back over the top of them.

Maeva then reconnected the roots of the trees to take the nutrients out of the decaying bodies of the Pouncers.

"That was fun! I'm glad we got out of that mess without getting eaten or anything crazy like that!" Maeva said with pure glee in her voice.

"Ugh. You say that like we weren't almost had." Leon said. "I wanted at least one normal mission. And again, it was some peculiar circumstance."

He walked off ahead of her as she jogged to keep up with him. "Yeah, your last two weren't a cakewalk either, for different reasons."

"Exactly. How they consider a Giant Darkcrawler B Class I'll never understand. Then the Pouncers together may as well be a B Class. What the hell classifies as an A Class?!"

"Very powerful beings. Very powerful. I hope we don't get called into one of them."


Back at the ruined Xavera, there was a heated conversation between Brivan, the scarred Oni, Ravlynn and Katrina.

"All three of you failed!" Brivan's usually relaxed attitude was nowhere to be found a week after the miraculous failure of the Tournament.

"I was shocked when you revealed yourself, Katrina, I'd hoped there was a chance we could've won. But you couldn't do it either. Which I suppose is fair, you lost to the streaking Leon who beat Oni, and Maeva even. But Ravlynn, you had an advantage on Maeva and you chose that pathetic attempt to kill you both instead? I couldn't believe what I'd seen." He sighed.

"Oni, you got the worst of it. I'm sorry about the burns. Leon is quite the monster when angered, and you did really try to keep him down even after you were scorched by lava. Maeva and Leon must be friends, so a warning sign had gone off in his head."

Ravlynn sulked in the corner of the closed off room they were in, not saying a word to anyone.

Oni had scarring on the left half of his body, leaving his darker skin on his normal side and lighter deformed skin on the other. He was the next to speak. "They're fighting the Vampires and Werewolves soon, right Katrina?"

"Yes. The night of the new moons the two sides will wage war with the other. Leon, Courtney and likely Maeva will go and try to stop them." She responded.

"Maeva's going too?" Ravlynn chimed in.

"Yes. She's Leon's honorary sidekick."

"Hah! Reaaaally? Me and Oni will have to combine our forces to fight them then. In an environment where ANYTHING goes, we won't lose."

"You seem to forget that Maeva bent boundaries against you too. And Leon sent people to the hospital on his own world. If he sees you two in that intense environment, he may just kill you without even a tear shed. And that's ignoring that he had a full mental break when I called him out in our match. Do you really want that?" Katrina explained in an icy tone.

"Plus, you forgot Courtney." Brivan added. "She's the former second in command because she nearly matches Charlotte's power. A power we should most definitely fear if the Vampire Queen showed, and she would have ZERO qualms killing us. Save for Katrina, possibly."

"So. Then what? You want us to get the pickings that come after?" Oni asked.

"It's certainly an idea. I mean picking up the aftermath is always a great idea. But no matter what happens, Vampires and Wolves will be around. And there's no way of knowing who else might jump in, if Komodrons entered for example, since Leon is close to them, they might shift things against us too." Brivan explained. "I have a plan that I have in mind. One much more calculated."

Katrina looked at him peculiarly. "What plan, Brivan? Are you holding out on telling me?"

Brivan smiled earnestly. "Katrina, it's ok. Look, I'm still gauging you yet. You've given us great information thus far and I humbly appreciate what you have disclosed. But, after this is hatched, will be the true calling of whether or not you can stay."

"Can I have a hint? In case it potentially threatens my life in the process?" She asked in a humble tone.

"Ahhh. Well. When you put it that way, yes. Harming you would only turn you against us. It will be three days after the new moon night, during the day of course."

"I see. Good to know, I'll clear out as soon as possible." She smiled. "Was there much else you wanted to discuss today?"

"Hmmm. No. There's nothing much we can do. Leon, as he is, is nearly unbeatable and with Maeva and Courtney, there's no chance. Not without the Crimson Knight. Or a power close to him. I can only hope Charlotte maims them severely. If you have business at home, you may leave."

Katrina humbly bowed as she walked away, waving goodbye to everyone as she headed back to Zelenia. A half hour passed and she was met by Ravlynn rushing behind her.

"Katrina! Hey!" Ravlynn shouted at her.

"Hmm? What is it?"

"Me and Oni are going to crash the New Moon party together, we thought you might join us." She was shaking almost as if their plan hinged on Katrina.

"Do you plan on getting help?"

"We have forty others committed so far."

"Why'd Lynn lie to me just now? Is the situation that desperate?

"And what about Brivan? Won't he find out?"

"Nah, I've gotten smarter about my loud mouth around there. So are you with us or not?"

"That's really a bad idea for me." She continued walking, before Ravlynn cut her off.

"Why?! Don't you want revenge on Leon, and maybe kill Charlotte ourselves?"

"You're foolish. I couldn't face Courtney hardly, let alone Charlotte. You have a death wish. Now...move!" She forced her aside and pushed her back behind her as she pressed on.

Ravlynn was left behind to take a long walk back to Xavera. She shook a bit because while she was always playing the leader and the confident one, the one who truly wanted revenge was Oni.