Chapter 24:

The Labyrinthian

The World's Savior is a Deviant?!

Raze and Lyra opened their eyes, catching sight of a well-lit narrow pathway.

“Where the fuck are we?” Raze shouted while looking around, trying to make heads and tails of his situation.

Lyra took a step forward before placing a hand on the rocky wall. “It seems we are deep underground. The rock formations on these walls are quite dense from what I can tell. Reminds me of home.”

She inspected more of the rock arrays as Raze barged forward. “I don’t smell anything bad anymore, but this place gives me a...strange feeling. It's like I’m inside the belly of the beast. Jonah and the Whale or the lying wooden child kinda thing.”

“Likewise, though those references are mostly lost on my dull self. I think this place must have been made from some sort of lost ancient magic.”

They decided to walk and talk as they slowly made their way through the narrow passageway where an alabaster door stood solemnly at the end. The pure white and intricate design felt very out of place in such a primitive location.

“What is this ancient magic shit you were talking about?” Raze kept his eyes on the door ahead as he conversed with Lyra."Tell me more."

“A few millennia ago, there was magic of all sorts that defied the very fabrics of our reality. Magic to restore the dead, to completely heal body parts that had been severed for years, or even being able to turn back time and even peer into the future.”

Raze couldn't help but grin. “That shit sounds pretty OP. Though it would be nice to have a taste of their power or have someone of that caliber on our team…”

“It sure would make life easier, but imagine if our opponents got their hands on that kind of power. Saving this continent would be a fever dream.”

“Sure...but that Eskachad guy sure had a lot of broken shit. We even saw him turn back time.”

Lyra stopped in her tracks a few feet from the door and turned her attention to Raze with a small smile. “I guess you don’t know about the legendary artifacts. There are a few that contain the power of the lost magic inside them. Komoria even believes she can get her hands on one.”

“Yeah, I know. That dude must have tons of those treasures lying around.”

“It’s possible if we could even manage to acquire them, that is.”

“Heh, so you're saying that all we need to do is rob that guy when he's away and loot him for everything he has.”

“That doesn't seem very tactful. Us Azurespines would never stoop to such cowardly methods. I would face that man head-on in honorable battle.”

“Suit yourself.” Raze pushed open the door. At the same time, a purple blur dashed to them from the room they had been teleported to. It caught up to Raze and Lyra as they opened the single door and were consumed by light.

“Can they stop doing that shit? It hurts my eyes... Wait...what the fuck?”

“I am confused as well. This place looks rather interesting. It's as if we were sent to a fantasy world.”

The two of them stood on a black-and-white starting line. The sky was painted rainbow, constantly changing after every few seconds. A long and windy road stretched out before them. They couldn't even see where it ended.

Raze turned around. “The door is gonn— Woah, woah! What the hell is that thing?!”

“Ah... It must have followed us in.”

Right behind them stood a shambling bipedal beast. It had rough, veiny violet skin with spikes all over, four sunny yellow eyes above its slit, bisected mouth that was split into four creepy-looking mandibles with shark teeth jutting out from the inside. It had no clothes on its body and didn't have any genitalia either. Its four-fingered hands with razor-sharp claws. It had the tail of a lizard with three spikes sticking out on the end. Black drool dripped from its alien mouth, muttering in an unrecognizable language.

Before they could look anymore, an invisible force caused the two of them to turn around and were this time greeted by large floating words.

"You have entered the first trial of the Labyrinthian. Win all three to survive! The loser will receive a massive punishment!" it said.

The words faded away and were replaced by new ones: "The winner will be teleported to their desired position. Keep in mind that each of the three trials is based on something created from one of the participants’ minds."

Eh? So this racing world was created from my mind? I have played games like this in the past, but they were kind of boring… Raze thought.

“I assume this world is your doing, then? I have never seen anything like this even in my wildest dreams, while that creature behind us doesn't look intelligent enough to conjure it up.”

“Yeah… It looks like one of my old games. I just need to win—so don’t slow me down.”

A blue race car manifested from thin air in front of Raze, while a red corvette appeared for Lyra. Only one of them knew what this was, but that didn’t stop the other from giving it a shot.

“Hmmm...interesting!" she beamed. "I have never seen such complex controls before and yet I know exactly how they work!” Lyra jovially glanced around her black interior, inspecting all the buttons before checking out the steering wheel.

“All that matters is that one of us wins and not that purple freak.” Raze looked back behind him to find the creature missing. Instead, it was to his left, on all fours and ready to race.

That’s funny! Does this thing think it can beat a car on all fours?! I’ll teach it a lesson.

Raze revved his engine, egging for a fight. Lyra cooly adjusted herself to the pedals—even though she had never touched them in her life—before fixing her rearview mirror.

The words appeared again with a five-second countdown. Raze grinned like a madman, his intense glare directly at the creature. It paid him no mind while its myriad of eyes was solely focused on the diminishing timer. Lyra was engaged as well—but that was no surprise. She kept her stern gaze on the track, ready to prove her strength at any and everything, no matter how foreign it was to her.

A boisterous howl roared through the sky, alerting them to start. Raze sped off immediately. He was the type to put all his power into the pedal. “Let’s goooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” he screamed with glee.

Lyra came up calmly to his side while trying to keep her bearings as the terrain below them quickly transformed from smooth dirt to full of bumps after a minute of speeding.

That thing was probably blown away by modern technology. The monkeys of this world know nothing in comparison. Raze took his eyes off the road and smugly glanced back at the starting line. The purple creature was nowhere to be seen. As it should have been.

“Pathetic. Heh, he must have got scared from the roar of my sick engine.” Raze chuckled to himself as his eyes followed the road.

“Huuuh?” Raze’s eyes nearly jumped out of their sockets. “How the fuck can he keep up with us?!”

The purple creature was running to Raze’s left and kept a steady pace with his car despite being on all fours. Once their gazes met, it started to pick up speed and easily passed both Raze and Lyra’s vehicles' capabilities.

“That creature…”

“...Is fast as fuck!” Raze slammed on the accelerator, chasing after the purple beast while on a road with way too many windy turns. He maneuvered the best he could, barely not biting the test and wrecking his car.

A few minutes went by and Raze was still stuck in second place, much to his dismay. He pounded his free hand on the seat. He needed a solution.

If I recall correctly, there should be some shortcuts in this game that can pull me ahead. Maybe I can even run that thing over and get ahead with it….

The windy path was a lot smoother again as they made their way along the long track. They would eventually end up making it back to the start as long as they kept on course.

“Soon.” Razed eyed a long flat rock to his left. It was stuck up into the air at a neat 90 degree angle.

Raze couldn't believe his luck. “If that thing works like it should, I can easily zoom past that ape. You hear that, creature! I am about to show you why being able to stand on two feet doesn't mean shit!”

He swerved to the left, making sure to curve into the rock at a high speed. “Yes! Fuck yes!” Raze shot into the air, easily cutting past the next part of the track. He landed ten feet in front of his purple adversary and kept his foot on the gas.

“Take that, you little shit!” He gave the beast the finger and continued to keep his car in first place. The finish line was now only minutes away and the road is smooth and straight from there on.

Raze should have the win secured, Lyra thought as she tried to keep up with the other two, but she was still far behind due to her lack of skill and experience. It didn't help that there was no spot for her tail to go free and it pressed uncomfortably against her back like a chunk of metal.

The purple beast had other plans, however. It picked up its pace and got behind Raze’s vehicle with ease. It kept a steady pace, while on his tail. It’s sole desire was to get ahead. They were thirty feet away now.

“I’m gonna make it!”

“He’s gonna make it!”

“SCARTOHP RAAOAOS! [He will not win under my watch!]

The creature leaped high into the air, its long and streamlined form cruising over Raze’s car like a rocket. It was far too quick for either Raze or Lyra to notice until it was too late. The four-eyed beast had pulled it off! It had made it back in the lead and narrowly passed the finish line, just seconds before Raze.

“Are you shitting me! What the fuck! This fucker leapfrogged me! There's no way that is legal!”

Nothing responded to Raze’s angry excuse. Instead, he was blinded by another white light.