Chapter 32:

Chapter 32


"SHIT!" Isaac screamed, drawing his sword. Vera armed her staff. Elizabeth rushed over to Agnes. The spider was still twitching. Green blood soaked and seeped into the arrow's wood. The two warriors traced the perimeter while the doctor analyzed the patient.

"I've got no pulse!" She cried.

"Is it too soon to make a joke?" Vera asked, glancing back at Isaac.

"Vera!" Elizabeth shouted in disgust.

"Depends, what's the joke?"


"Sorry! I just, I don't know, things are pretty tense right now and, no no, you're right, I'm sorry." While Elizabeth scolded Isaac, Vera caught something in her periphery. She focused her vision and shuddered.

"Guys..." Her voice trembling. "Who's that?" The others turned to look. In the trees, high above the ground, sat a man. A samurai warrior. Armor covered his flesh. An oni mask cover half his face, from his chin to his nose. A bandana covered the rest, mainly his eyes. Instead of a helmet, a bamboo sedge hat rested upon his head. The samurai sat atop the branches, bow and arrow drawn and aimed directly at the party. He fired another arrow. Vera moved to dodge. The jade-tipped arrowhead grazed her cheek. "I've had enough of these guys!" She went to cast a spell at Ronin. He didn't move. He didn't flinch. He just prepared his next arrow. "Wait... hold on..." Thats when she noticed. "What's going on? Why can't I cast spells?!" Another arrow flew towards her.

"Heads up!" Isaac tackled Vera out of the way. As the two collided, Ronin swiftly shifted his aim. He launched another arrow, this time at Elizabeth. The arrow pierced her calf, pinning her to the ground. Ronin drew another arrow. Elizabeth frantically tried to pull her leg out. He released the arrow. Elizabeth shrieked. A loud metallic ping rang out. Isaac threw his shield to block the arrow. Ronin stood up, cracked his neck, and jumped down. Putting the bow away, Ronin drew his kanabo. Isaac jumped back as Ronin slammed into the earth. In the split-second Isaac took to regain his balance, Ronin was already back on the attack. Swing after swing. Strike after strike. Ronin did not let up. He knocked Isaac around like his own personal plaything. With every blow, he used his momentum to wind up his next strike, even on the rare misses. The studs on the club cracked Isaac's armor like an egg. Blood and viscera leaked and oozed out of every opening. The knight's armor would be the tomb to house a liquified soldier.

"Stop it!" Vera screamed. She aimed her staff. In desperation, she used all her might to cast a spell, any spell. Static buzzed at the tip, and a small bolt of electricity shot from the staff. It hit Ronin square in the back, causing him to drop his kanabo. Without hesitation, Ronin whipped around, redrew his bow, and shot two arrows at Vera. She threw up her arms in a hasty attempt to block. One arrow impaled her waist, the other created a cut running all the way down her arm. Ronin readied another arrow. Isaac quickly came up from behind and put his sword to Ronin's throat.

"Leave her! Focus on me, you bastard!" Ronin tried to shake him off, but Isaac held on tight. Growing tired of games, Ronin dropped his bow. He reached at his hips and drew two katanas. He raised his katanas, angled them directly at himself, and plunged them into his sides. The blades went clean through his body, and into Isaac's. Isaac cried out in agony and released his grip. Ronin pulled out the blades and obliged by the knight's wishes, refocusing on him. He had already busted open the paladin's armor, now it was time to cut him down. Ronin resumed his assault on Isaac, periodically breaking away to keep Vera at bay. He was different from the other horsemen, Ronin was smart. As the three warriors fought each other, Elizabeth noticed something in the distance. A glint of glowing light. She knew exactly what it was, and she needed to have it. Elizabeth pulled the arrow out of the dirt. She snapped off each end, leaving the rest of it still lodged inside her leg, plugging her wound. She stood up and limped through the woods as fast as she could. Unfortunately, Ronin caught a glimpse of her escape. He beat back Isaac and Vera, knocking both to the ground, before racing off to catch Elizabeth.

"What the hell? Where is he going?" Vera panted.

"Wherever he's going, we can't let him get there." Isaac wheezed. "Go after him!" The two sprinted away to catch up. Weaving through trees, shrubs, and vines, Elizabeth moved as fast as she could. But Ronin moved faster. Two arrows flew into her back, narrowly missing anything vital. Elizabeth tripped and tumbled. Ronin leapt forward into the air, ready to strike down and end his mission. But a mystical tether wrapped around his foot. Ronin glanced back.

"We're not done with you yet!" Vera announced through gritted teeth. She pulled on her tether and subsequently pulled Ronin down to the ground. The samurai took out another arrow and used it to sever the glowing lead. Free from the bindings, he blinked forward, moving faster than the mind can comprehend. He and Isaac continued their duel. Vera rushed over to Elizabeth. She helped her up to her feet. "The sunrose lotus. That's why you ran off. It's over there." The doctor nodded. "We'll cover you. Go." The two then split, Elizabeth running for the flower, Vera running for the fight. In a small, glistening pond, resting all by itself, sat the sunrose lotus. It pulsed with a soft, warm glow. One like the sun. An intricate pattern decorated the petals. Pristine beauty incarnate. Elizabeth knelt down in the muddy bank. She dipped her hands into the water and scooped up the gorgeous flower. The water was cool, but the lotus itself was so warm in her hands. Elizabeth took a second just to admire the plant, before delicately placing it inside her bag. She wanted to be careful not to harm it, although considering the circumstances, that might be inevitable. Suddenly, a large object struck her in the back of her head, knocking Elizabeth into the pond and revealing how shallow it was. She propped herself up and saw what had hit her. It was Vera. Elizabeth quickly whipped around. Isaac was now fighting Ronin off just a few feet away. Ronin had continued to pursue Elizabeth, forcing the fight closer and closer to her.

"Damnit!" Isaac shouted, raising his sword high above his head. "I'm tired of this!" Ronin couldn't agree more. Isaac brought down his blade. Ronin swiftly threw his up. The three blades collided. Isaac's was pushed up. He stumbled back. He lost his balance. He was wide open.

"しね" The one thing the Oni had ever spoke. He hadn't said a single word the entire fight, nor ever. Not until now, in this moment. And it seemed to have taken all of his might to force those words out. That was the hardest thing he had ever had to do, speak. Nothing else compared. Everything else was a breeze. Including what he did next. Taking his two katanas, he brought them back down and angled them at Isaac. Then, he plunged the swords into the knight's chest. Vera shrieked. Elizabeth gasped. The two girls watched in horror as Ronin lifted Isaac's lifeless body high above his head. His blood spilled out from the wound, drenching the samurai below. Ronin then pivoted his body and flung the skewered knight off of his blades, landing him right in front of Vera. The mage trembled. Her eyes grew wide. Every fiber of her being shook. Her jaw hung open, until clenching into a fierce scowl. Her eyes suddenly glowed a fiery aura. She threw her staff back behind her head. Swirling embers gathered around the tip. A fireball, reminiscent of a small sun, slowly grew.

"YOU BETTER PRAY THAT HE'S STILL ALIVE!" She screamed, the sheer power inside her body causing her voice to echo. The fireball continued to grow. Ronin looked on, unimpressed. The sky grew red. Birds flocked out the trees.

"Vera!" Elizabeth shouted over the roaring flames. "You'll burn the entire forest down!"

"I DON'T FUCKING CARE!!!" Vera used all her might to throw the fireball. It squashed and deformed before barreling towards the samurai. It moved with such intense weight, with such immense power, a power that would be quickly felt. The ball detonated. A cataclysmic explosion erupted forth. A spire of flame, brilliant reds, blues, and whites, soared and illuminated the heavens. It seemed the entire forest was engulfed in the blast. An apocalyptic wildfire spread out and consumed the enchanted woods, caused by history's greatest mage in the heat of passion.