Chapter 14:

The Maiden and The Mist

The Symphonia of Erde (DISCONTINUED) (ARCHIVED)


*drip*
*drip*Bookmark here

The sound of drizzling raindrops orchestrated a ballad of serenity, laying its life to the branches, leaves and the earth below. A soft gust of wind blew through the scene, softly stroking the dark, lifeless oaks of the accursed place that is the Misty Woods. Though the seasons bore little meaning to this place, yet something as feeble as drizzling rain were noticeable for the folks of the woods and their unwilling guests.Bookmark here

Inside a peculiar carven cave redecorated to a simple cozy home, a beautiful scarlet-haired maiden stood near the window, admiring the raindrops flowing gracefully on the wooden frame.Bookmark here

"Very little dare to step into this woods, yet something as weak as raindrops are able to flow freely into this place," Anna spoke before turning towards her guests, "those that are strong and proud, they would perish in this woods without a trace of mercy, yet those that are weak and humble; like the raindrops whose dearest goal was only to reach the ground, they were left unscathed, cherished even by the living mists."Bookmark here

"Tell me outsiders, I heard it was the other way around beyond this misty grounds. The strong and proud strived, while the weak and humble are left to perish, or so I was told by Mister."Bookmark here

Isaac and Jakob, who were each seated on a tree stump near a makeshift stone stable, looked at each other for a while. Isaac signaled Jakob to answer her question in which he replied with a 'why me?' gesture. Eventually though, the hunter sighed and turned his sight back to the red-haired maiden.Bookmark here

"Your surrogate father's right, technically," Jakob answered, "it's a tough world outside; the strong dominates the weak. Liars and schemers rule the world. There's these things called 'kindness' and 'compassion' though, but based on my personal experience, you can't rely too much on that."Bookmark here

"Tsk. So dark and gloomy," Isaac scoffed, "point is Anna, you'll meet various kinds of people outside. These people could affect your life one way or another. The good, kind ones would surely make yours better, while the bad ones would push you to the ground and spit on your face. Sadly though, the bad ones are way more common."Bookmark here

"But in return-" Jakob added, "standing up and holding your ground against the bad ones, they'll make you a stronger person. Once you become strong enough, you decide which side you want to take."Bookmark here

"Oh? I would surely become the 'good' ones! I will make everyone's life better!" Anna claimed proudly.Bookmark here

"That's what they all say miss. It's much harder once you actually face it in reality," Jakob responded.Bookmark here

Anna pouted, dissatisfied by Jakob's reply, "still, whatever you or Mister say, none of those are gonna stop me from going to the outside world someday!"Bookmark here

"If you're that interested, cant you just, sneak out or something?" Jakob's question earned a glare from Anna.Bookmark here

"All of the mists in this wood are part of Mister- no, Mister IS the mists itself. He formed himself a body just so he could interact with me. If I tried doing anything funny, he'll know immediately."Bookmark here

"What about our conversation then?" Isaac interrupted, "is he listening to us right now?"Bookmark here

"He doesn't 'listen' or 'see' us technically. He senses things from the mists which, if you may notice, isn't present much in this house. But the moment I step outside-"Bookmark here

"Yeah while we're gossiping about 'Mister' here, what's taking him so long in the kitchen?" Jakob interrupted.Bookmark here

"Oh! He must be preparing steak-"Bookmark here

"He's preparing what now!?" the bounty hunter interrupted once more.Bookmark here

"Steak..? And salad probably? I saw him brought in a crate of greens this morning and he just slaughtered a cow two hours ago -"Bookmark here

"I thought you said this is a tea party?"Bookmark here

"But it is?" Anna looked at Jakob curiously.Bookmark here

"Yeaaah, no offence Anna, but we've been sitting here for quite some time and there's not even a single cup of tea served to any of us," Isaac added.Bookmark here

"What's a tea?"Bookmark here

"YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TEA IS!?!" both Isaac and Jakob shouted.Bookmark here

"Yet you called this a 'tea party'. Where did you even learned that word?" Jakob asked.Bookmark here

"I overheard some passing-by merchants saying those words, that they will be late for it if they remained lost in the woods. From my understanding, it must be when people eat together, right?"Bookmark here

Jakob was dumbstruck by her answer. She's clearly oblivious to the world outside if she didn't even know what tea is.Bookmark here

"What you answered just now Anna, could also be used to describe feasts, dinner, breakfast, lunch, brunch, tea break, banquet, fine dining, and so on and so on," Isaac spoke.Bookmark here

"Welp, guess we'll just have to re-title our meetup then. No harm done," the Storm Revenant added, "though, how good is mister at preparing a steak?"Bookmark here

His question was immediately answered as a loud bang was heard coming from the kitchen, followed by the sight of flame.Bookmark here

"Mister's not really that familiar with cooking. He's trying his best okay," Anna defended.Bookmark here

"Well, you know what this means, ey chef?" Isaac nudged Jakob's shoulder much to his annoyance. Having no other choice, the bounty hunter sighed and rolled up his sleeve.Bookmark here

Chef Fowlhunter has now entered the kitchen.Bookmark here

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A creak sound violated the quiet Misty Woods as the door of a long-abandoned wagon opened on its own. Out with it came two familiar faces, Marie the hooded white-haired maiden and Ryleigh the knight in not-so-shining armour.Bookmark here

"So any clue where we are?" Marie asked abruptly.Bookmark here

Ryleigh looked around but all he saw were the same things they have witnessed throughout their venture. Mists, dead trees, mists, skeletons, mists, abandoned wagons, and oh, what's that? More mists.Bookmark here

Moments later, they noticed the sky had started to drizzle. Marie adjusted her hood for more cover while Ryleigh simply ignored the raindrops flowing across the surface of his armour. It was then however, Ryleigh noticed something on the ground.Bookmark here

"Well would yer look at this Marie?" the knight pointed to the ground, "it appears like something's bein' dragged 'ere."Bookmark here

And indeed, the earth below him had a clear long track that went ever on further into the woods. Perhaps this could help lead them to their missing comrades. Despite that though, a question popped up in Ryleigh's mind.Bookmark here

"Which direction is the track 'eadin?" the knight asked, noting that the track seemed spanning endlessly for both front and back ends.Bookmark here

"Ah, it's definitely going that way," Marie answered confidently.Bookmark here

"How are yer so sure about that?"Bookmark here

"You could tell from the sticks and pebbles on the ground. If you look closely you'll notice a very small track from those little stones in the big track. That'll tell ya which direction the body or thing is being dragged towards to."Bookmark here

"Huh, you're sure right about that," Ryleigh responded after crouching down to give the track a closer look, noticing the slight drag of the stones and sticks as mentioned by Marie. "Yer sure got a very sharp vision to see that without kneelin' down like me."Bookmark here

"Oh, and one more thing-" Marie added.Bookmark here

"What is it?"Bookmark here

"Assuming there's no other creature being dragged here that has the same weight as him, the 'thing' that got dragged is most likely, our Jakob."Bookmark here

"And I guess you know that judging by the depth of this track."Bookmark here

"Yeaaa- sort of." Marie shrugged her shoulders.Bookmark here

"Hah! You're one talented lass I'll tell you what!" Ryleigh complimented, "I'm sure glad we met each other that night."Bookmark here

"Thanks for the praise Ryleigh, but like everything else, I simply learned that from Jakob."Bookmark here

The knight got up from his crouch and they both continued onwards with their journey. They followed along the track in the ground heading towards the direction Marie believed to be the direction where the track was heading to, as opposed to where its coming from.Bookmark here

During this time, Ryleigh decided to strike up a conversation with the hooded maiden. Although they had been together for quite some time, there was still much to be known about the two of them, their backgrounds and such, considering how tight-lipped Jakob was when it comes to their personal info. Marie however, was slightly more open to revealing those stuff to people she trusts.Bookmark here

"So-" Ryleigh started his 'interview'- "how long have you and Jakob known each other?"Bookmark here

"Hm? Come to think of it, its only been two years since we first met."Bookmark here

"Two years?" Ryleigh was a little taken back by the answer, "by the way yer two actin', people 'ill thought yer two are long married couple!" the knight joked.Bookmark here

"Heh, I know right? I swore it felt like we've been together for ten," Marie confessed honestly.Bookmark here

"We faced a lot of conflicts together. Every hardship and strife. Every ups and downs. We both shared every burden and glory together and yeah sure, we both argued at times, but there's no denying it; we got each other's back no matter the situation."Bookmark here

"And y'know, mind keeping this between the two of us?" Marie suddenly requested.Bookmark here

"Yer have my trust Marie. Knight's honour!" Ryleigh assured. Hearing that, Marie continued with her confession.Bookmark here

"Ever since we met, I've never felt more alive. Jakob doesn't want me to cling on him too much so I could become strong and independent and such, but honestly, if anything happens to him I don't know if I got any reason to live anymore."Bookmark here

"That's a bit..."Bookmark here

"Yeah, I know. This is the exact mentality he doesn't want me to have-" Marie looked away for a while- "But if you know my past and the exact story of how we met, you'll understand."Bookmark here

"And may I know how this exact 'story' went?" the knight's eyes glimmered in curiosity.Bookmark here

"Yeah, I guess I'll refrain from telling that," Marie replied, "there's some stories that are too personal for me to share. I-I'm not saying I don't trust you in this one though but-, you get what I mean."Bookmark here

Ryleigh nodded, understanding her situation.Bookmark here

"It's okay lass, you've told enough. Just, one more question, if yer may?"Bookmark here

"Go on ahead."Bookmark here

"Back when we're with the Phantom Blacksmith, he called you 'my favourite Icarus'. I've heard of Icaruses before; winged-people who lived on the Kingdom of Clouds, though most of them are just stories made up for children."Bookmark here

Marie kept quiet as Ryleigh went on with his question's exposition.Bookmark here

"Maybe 'e called yer that cuz of yer hair colour and strength? I mean, Icarus' are described to 'ave ghost white hair while possessing enhanced physical qualities-
wait a minute, don't tell me yer-"Bookmark here

"Stop-" Marie suddenly interrupted, gesturing Ryleigh to cease all acts. She sensed something's wrong about the current atmosphere, and not a second later, Ryleigh felt it as well.Bookmark here

The wind gradually grew stronger by the second. The dead oaks around them shook violently as withered leaves and sticks flung away from the ground. It was as if, something MASSIVE was about to crash, and whatever that 'something' is, it's going to crash the ground hard.Bookmark here

Moments after, Ryleigh and Marie turned around as they felt something glowing coming from the sky behind them. The mist-filled air that blanketed the forest's sky was made obscure by a raging light. A huge flaming thing appeared within the duo's sight, heading towards them at great speed.Bookmark here

Ryleigh quickly pushed Marie down as they both ducked just in time for the flaming thing to fly past them, crashing violently at whatever's ahead. The crash rumbled the ground, annihilating every trees that it passed through. Most unfortunate however, the flaming thing's crash dragged right onto the track the duo had been trailing all this time. It was now gone, reduced to a destructive path of fiery annihilation.Bookmark here

Despite that, the duo paid no heed towards it and went straight for the crashed object.Bookmark here

"Dear lord!" Ryleigh exclaimed, having arrived at the crash zone first. His reaction induced great curiosity for Marie.Bookmark here

"What is it? What did you see- GATDANG!"Bookmark here

The crashed object? It was a wyvern's corpse, greatly wounded on its head. It laid on its side unconscious, perhaps dead from whatever great battle it took part in before. It was then when another 'thing' emerged.Bookmark here

"D- Did I win?" a voice rumbled as one huge hand emerged behind the beast, followed by another, and lastly, a helm-like face the duo were all too accustomed with.Bookmark here

"Claude!? What in Erde 'appened to yer?!"Bookmark here

"Ryleigh? Marie? Heh, what are the odds?" Claude climbed up the wyvern's body before rolling down to the ground in front. He laid there for awhile before his friends helped him got back up.Bookmark here

"I had a feeling yer gonna come after us one way or 'nother. But 'ell, I did not expect that kind of an entrance!"Bookmark here

"Yes, I believe I owe you two a context behind all this."Bookmark here

But before Claude could utter a single word for his 'context', a loud murmur was heard coming from the wounded wyvern. The two were caught off guard for a second before they drew out their weapons, preparing themselves for battle.Bookmark here

The wyvern's wounds combusted into flames, fully regenerated as the fire faded off. The creature got back up to its feet and unleashed a roar of anger that shook the entire area. Its mouth, now glowing like an open furnace, turned its gaze towards the trio.Bookmark here

Apparently, this was all the context Marie and Ryleigh needed regarding the Behemoth's arrival.Bookmark here

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"Now all we need is some little seasoning- and voila!" the little mushrooms sizzled as Jakob tossed a pinch of seasoning into the black pan.Bookmark here

The dish, pan roast mushrooms with garlic butter sauce, turned out nicely as the little shrooms were roasted to perfection. It was golden brown, no signs of char or any indication of over-burning, and the mixed fragrance of roasted mushrooms and garlic sweeten the cave-house's cozy atmosphere. Needless to say, the sight of the food sent both Isaac and Anna drooling as they waited at the dining table, along with The Living Mist itself, in which Anna refer to as 'Mister'.Bookmark here

"Woah! I've never seen mushroom prepared this gorgeously before!" Anna complimented as Jakob served their plates, "I always thought our supplies won't suffice for making a fine meal."Bookmark here

"Quite the opposite actually," Jakob replied, emptying the pan into the last plate, "it's a treasure trove back there I'll tell you that! What it lacked in quantity, the storage is filled with well-preserved and fresh ingredients. Guess the mists play a big role at keeping them fresh, ain't it, 'Mist' -er?"Bookmark here

The Mist remained silent. Its faceless face stared blankly at the roast shrooms on its plate. Moments later, a small cloud of mist began to enshroud the plate before fading away along with the food that used to sit on top of it. The Mist Man turned its faceless gaze to Jakob and gave him a silent nod.Bookmark here

"Mister says your food is delicious," Anna translated its gesture.Bookmark here

"I appreciate your compliment."Bookmark here

"Guess that's one way to eat your food-" Isaac stuffed himself a fork full of mushroom- "by the way, how long have you two been living together in the woods, ey Anna?"Bookmark here

"Now that you mentioned it-" Anna put up her hands as she did some quick calculation- "I met Mister when I was five, and I am 18 now-"Bookmark here

"Huh, you're my age," Jakob remarked, but his statement surprised Isaac.Bookmark here

"Wait what! What do you mean you're 18?!"Bookmark here

"I'm sorry Isaac, did I stutter?"Bookmark here

"No, but, come on you look like you're freaking 38! Look at me! This, young, energetic, handsome me! I'm 18!"Bookmark here

"Must be all those tobacco you've been smoking," Isaac added.Bookmark here

"Well, at least my height doesn't make me look like I'm eight," Jakob replied with a smug grin.Bookmark here

"Hey, stay off from my height!" Isaac warned but was utterly ignored by the hunter.Bookmark here

"Should've drank those milk your mother served ya as a child."Bookmark here

"How many times must I say this, MILK TASTES LIKE SHIT! " Isaac got up from his seat angrily.Bookmark here

"Oh but you're fine with butter and cheese?!"Bookmark here

"I got it! I've been living with Mister for 13 years!" Anna proudly claimed, but her words sunk into the lake of ignorance as the other two were busy arguing against each other.Bookmark here

Pissed off by their rudeness, The Mist stretched both its misty hands, grabbed the two's head and roughly shoved them back to their seats. Jakob and Isaac were caught off guard for a while before sensing a murderous aura that filled the entire atmosphere of the room. Its no question where that ominous aura came from.Bookmark here

"Calm down Mister. I'm happy you put them back to their place, but we can't fear our guests too much."Bookmark here

Although irritated, The Mist did not want to ruin Anna's evening and calmed down as it was told. Had it not been for her sake, it would've just rip off both guests head by now.Bookmark here

As for Jakob and Isaac, dwelling in the homey atmosphere of the cave-house for quiet some time made them forgot the current situation they're in. Being effortlessly shoved back down by such an immense force, reminded them to whom did this domain belong.Bookmark here

" *Urghem* Anyways, I've been here for full 13 years now." Anna went on with her story, "Today's the anniversary of my life here in this woods. I consider the day I moved in here to be my second birthday, its importance even more so to be honest."Bookmark here

"13 years huh? Quite impressive honestly, becoming a living folk legend in such a short period of time," Jakob remarked. "Most would usually take a century or so before people start making stories of them."Bookmark here

"I mean to be fair-" Isaac interrupted despite his mouth still chewing his food- "seeing a beauty like you is the last thing people expect when they travel through this horrid place. No offense."Bookmark here

"No offense taken, O' Storm Revenant. This place had always been known for its reputation far before my arrival, right Mister?"Bookmark here

The Mist sat quietly without a word. Somehow though, Anna took the silence as if it was a proper reply in a conversation.Bookmark here

"Say, that reminded me, we had a friend somewhere in this woods who really wanted to meet you," Jakob added, "hell, he's the reason why the both of us end up here in the first place."Bookmark here

"Oh! Another visitor? Then we should invite this 'friend' as soon as possible Mister! I'm more than happy to have more guests for our party!"Bookmark here

"....No...." a soft voice replied, earning a surprised glare from Jakob and Isaac.Bookmark here

"...Two more... in woods..." The Mist spoke slowly.Bookmark here

"Jakob, he must be referring to Ryleigh and Marie," Isaac whispered to the hunter.Bookmark here

"...Two guests... enough... Four... too much..."Bookmark here

"Oh come on now," Anna chuckled, "its not like everyday we get to do this. Its not like everyday I get to talk to someone else beside Mister."Bookmark here

There was a slight firmness in her last sentence. Jakob and Isaac grew uncomfortable and did not like where the conversation is heading.Bookmark here

"13 years I've been living with no one else but Mister. The first few years I am really grateful for that, because Mister saved me from those horrible villagers. Mister raised me like a parent even though you didn't have to. You gave me nothing but joy and love, and I can never be more grateful for that."Bookmark here

Anna suddenly got up from her seat, and approached The Mist. It too got up from its seat and they both confronted each other. Meanwhile, an uncomfortable Isaac decided to inch closer to Jakob, who would normally tell him to back off but due to their current situation, allowed and even welcomed his friend being within his comfort zone right now.Bookmark here

"I remember when those group of travelers passed us in their caravans back then. It was the first people I have met years after the village incident. I tried approaching them, befriend them, and what did you do? You slaughtered them! Right in front of my eyes!"Bookmark here

Clouds of mists started to disperse from The Mists body, gathering and swirling around the dining table. Jakob and Isaac immediately got up and moved away from the table, but still sticking around in the dining room.Bookmark here

"Every. Single. One of them! Even the women and children! But then, you convinced me that you were doing that to protect me, that anyone from the outside could and would harm me. I was gullible though back then. I believed it, even though there's a shred of doubt, but I convinced myself that you did all this to protect me."Bookmark here

More mists began to accumulate the dining table. However, Jakob and Isaac noticed that not only Mister, but Anna herself began emitting mists from the tips of her fingers and soon, all around her body. Her dark-hazel eyes slowly turned ghost gray as if she was undergoing a rather, spectral transformation.Bookmark here

"I know now you're not doing this to protect me. You just want to keep me all to yourself! Didn't you? You don't want me to go out there because you feared I would never return, to play with you like we did back when I was a child. Isn't that right Mister?!"Bookmark here

Although there was no response, The Mist's silence and faceless stare felt like it spoke "watch your words child" to Anna. Bookmark here

Seeing this, Jakob whistled to Isaac and signaled him the exit. He replied with an 'OK' gesture and they both tried tip-toeing out, but the door was immediately shut and locked by mists. Whose mists? None could tell for sure.Bookmark here

"I- I just wanted to see the world outside. I've been here long enough, this is my one and truly home indeed, but, you can't keep me here forever Mister!"Bookmark here

Anna's words grew firmer than before. The Mist clenched its fists as the mists around it began to grow into arm like appendages with sharp talons.Bookmark here

"The child you met 13 years back, she's all grown up now Mister..."Bookmark here

Those words struck The Mist right into its metaphorical heart. Though its face was literal blank, Jakob and Isaac noticed a hint of sadness from the figure. Unfortunately, Anna did not.Bookmark here

"I will leave this woods! Whether you like it or not!"Bookmark here

"...NOOO!!!!" This was the last straw for The Mist. Immediately, the misty clawed-arms stretched towards Anna, but somehow, it passed right through her, as if she was an intangible figure. The arms stretched all across the room, knocking the dining table and its seats away. Jakob and Isaac dodged just in time as the razor talons impaled the wooden door, ripping it from its frame.Bookmark here

"I knew you wouldn't dare to harm me," Anna commented.Bookmark here

The fact was that the talons made itself intangible as it passed through Anna under The Mist's will. It was meant to be an intimidation, but clearly the girl was unfazed by it. The arms retracted itself back to The Mist, leaving Anna unharmed throughout the entire ordeal.Bookmark here

"Even though you'll never hurt me, you're still able to stop me from going outside in other ways. That is why-" Anna's mists began to grow arms and claws similar to the Mist's- "I am willing to fight for my freedom! If that's what it takes!!"Bookmark here

Anna's dozens of clawed misty arms head straight for The Mist as it parried and grabbed all of it in return. The 'father' and 'daughter' immediately engaged in an intense battle, a battle Jakob and Isaac wanted no part in it. They quickly scrambled away from the room and head straight for the exit. As they were about to reach the ripped main door however, a cupboard of some sort flew past their heads and landed in front, blocking their exit.Bookmark here

"Shit! Isaac quick! Punch that thing away!" Jakob commanded.Bookmark here

"Alright, but wait, their battle do look interesting from here."Bookmark here

"ISAAC WHAT THE F*&K!"Bookmark here

"No I mean, seriously! Look!"Bookmark here

Jakob turned and saw Anna throwing punches after punches of misty clenched fists. The mists emitting around her made her look somewhat similar to her 'father'. The Mist on the other hand effortlessly blocked and parried all those attack with its own mists, but threw none to attack her back.Bookmark here

In her mad flurry of swinging and punching of a dozen misty limbs, furniture around them were carelessly sent flying here and there, cracking the stone walls and shattering window glasses. At one point, the knives in the kitchen somehow went flying mere centimeters beside Jakob, cutting a few strands of his sideburn.Bookmark here

Isaac on the other hand straight up got his forehead stabbed, but worry not, the Storm Revenant would not die from such minor wounds.Bookmark here

"Okay, it's getting dangerous now. We're getting the hell out of here!" Isaac pulled out the knife from his forehead, turned himself into his iconic skeletal form and electro-punched the cupboard blocking their exit into a million wooden shards.Bookmark here

The two wasted no time and head straight for the woods. Right after they exit however, the cave exploded out of nowhere. The two turned back and saw The Mist being thrown away from the explosion and crashed to a nearby tree. From the cave, Anna emerged, her mists seemingly bigger than before.Bookmark here

Anna's mists began to form into one giant fist, pointed towards the misty figure, who simply got back up after the violent crash that destroyed a tree and left a small crater.Bookmark here

"I don't want to do this Mister. Please-" tears began to form in her eyes, the giant fist now grew spikes much to Jakob and Isaac's concern. The Mist was not budged by it, and stood its ground.Bookmark here

"...You...I...never...leave..."Bookmark here

Its inconsiderate reply ticked Anna off as she immediately charged toward The Mist. The giant spiky fist flew ahead and slammed The Mist at near mach speed, but it simply tanked the hit and held the fist with all its body and might. The fist pushed onwards as The Mist remained hugging the fist, its feet leaving deep, meters-long track on the forest ground as the push dragged on.Bookmark here

As it was pushed ever onwards by the fist, The Mist's body grew bigger and bigger. The speed of the push too became ever slower until finally, it stopped. The Mist had grown so huge that the 'giant' fist was crushed simply within its palm. Bookmark here

Jakob and Isaac watched in awe as the titanic misty figure stomped its way back towards them, but Anna remained unintimidated. Instead, her mists started to form dozens of those clawed arms, all of it pointed towards her gigantic 'father'.Bookmark here

The Mist, now looking down at Anna, tried to grab her. All of Anna's misty arms stretched towards the gigantic palm that was approaching her. Slash, stab, punch, all of it was thrown towards the palm at an attempt to resist it's arrival, but all of it proved inevitable as it simply went onwards to crush the red-haired maiden. In her last ditch effort, Anna threw two huge mist-fists at the palm but it was simply annihilated by the approaching titan.Bookmark here

In the end, the 20 yard square palm reached Anna and impacted the ground hard, sending a wave of dust, dirt and debris that hit Isaac and Jakob despite their great distance from the fight.Bookmark here

The dust finally settled after awhile, and Anna appeared unharmed by the crush. The Mist's giant figure was no longer there but instead, a thick cloud of mist circled around Anna. In a flash, the cloud disappeared as The Mist materialized back to its normal-sized body. It grabbed and lifted Anna by her neck, leaving her no time to react.Bookmark here

In spite of this, Anna wasn't chocked by its grasp, but she could feel her powers disappearing. The mist dispersed from Anna's body gradually vanished, her eyes began to regain its hazel colour. She tried everything to get out of The Mist's chokehold, even grasping its arm with her own two hands, but it was no use.Bookmark here

"..You... STAAYYY!!!!" The Mist shouted in anger, slamming Anna to the ground hard.Bookmark here

Its action shocked Isaac and Jakob who watched them in disbelief. Hard was the slam that the whole area shook for a short moment. A crater was made below The Mist's feet, where a red-haired maiden lay at the center of it.Bookmark here

*Gachk*

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Anna coughed, her entire body bruised badly as she stressed out every last of her willpower to remain conscious. The maiden coughed again and this time, there was blood. She was surprised by the blood, but The Mist, who witnessed Anna struggling to even get on her knees, was devastated after it had realized what it had done.Bookmark here

Its fatherly instinct kicked in and tried to help its daughter back to her feet, but as soon as its hand nearly reached her it was slapped away. Anna turned her gaze towards The Mist, where it saw a sight The Mist was all too familiar with.Bookmark here

Having slaughtered hundreds, perhaps thousands even throughout its centennial long existence, The Mist knew all too well the gaze of men, of any creature, when they were face-to-face with fear itself. The Mist noticed those slight changes in one's eyes, the dimming of hope and the glow of despair when those people locked eyes with the realization of their fears.Bookmark here

Soldiers, knights, assassins; anyone whose job was to slaughter others regardless of just would all be familiar with this gaze. 'The eyes of despair' some called it, would either break a man, haunting them throughout their life, or desensitize a man from the sympathy of taking other's life away. For The Mist's case, it was the latter.Bookmark here

But witnessing the eyes of despair coming from her, from the child it raised for the last 13 years. It was 13 years ago too when The Mist last saw her like this, but back then those eyes were for the people who wanted her dead, who went out for her blood.Bookmark here

But now, those eyes, were for him.Bookmark here

"...Anna... I-..I-.."Bookmark here

"I don't care what you do to me, father-" Anna, still on the ground, started to emit mists from her body once more- "I'm leaving this place, to the outside world-"Bookmark here

Her eyes became gray once again as she regained her strength to get back up. The mists around her started to form those clawed arms once more.Bookmark here

"I- I just want to see what's outside father. I'm willing to do whatever it takes-" tears were held back inside her eyes. Bookmark here

"Please Anna, we've done enough. I don't want to hurt you anymore." Those words lingered within The Mist. The words it would've spoke, begged even, had it not been for its struggling incompetence in verbal communication.Bookmark here

"...protect...you..." Bookmark here

Instead, those were the words that came out from The Mist for everyone to hear.Bookmark here

"You've protected me enough!!" Anna charged towards her surrogate father as all her misty arms stretched towards it.Bookmark here

The Mist was about to embrace her attacks when he sensed, something.Bookmark here

In that split second moment, The Mist, Jakob, and Isaac felt it at the same time. Something changed in the atmosphere. Something terrible was about to hit them, and hit them really really hard. Only Anna was oblivious to this split second change as her senses were blinded by her rage.Bookmark here

Because of that, in that split second moment, The Mist effortlessly sliced all of Anna's misty arms, tackled her down as she fell to the ground with The Mist lying on top of her. Jakob too immediately smacked his entire front part of his body to the ground whereas Isaac stood in front of the hunter, his back on Jakob's side, arms all wide open to protect his dear friend.Bookmark here

Less than a second later, a sea of fire surged right above them, scorching all those that hit the hellish tide. Trees reduced to ashes, birds and insects gone or turned black by the flame.Bookmark here

The Mist, who was on top of Anna, was not low enough to dodge the fire. Its misty body was blown away instantly by the surge of flame, leaving the horrified maiden who watched her surrogate father disintegrate right in front of her eyes.Bookmark here

As the sudden surge of fire ended, Anna and Jakob got up to an unrecognizable field of ash. The once dreadful woods filled with mists yet devoid of life, became devoid of whatever it had left as no withered trees were in sight, only its smoldering remains. The drizzling weather became meaningless in this field of embers and ash.Bookmark here

"FUUUUUUU-" a familiar voice shouted, which reminded Jakob of something.Bookmark here

"F##K ME JAKOB THAT WAS HOT!" Isaac turned around, revealing his entire front part of his skeleton body to be as black as coal.Bookmark here

"Holy shit my guy! You didn't have to do that for me!" Jakob remarked, "That was stupid and brave, and I can't be more grateful for that! I'll freaking hug you for this if you're not like a hundred degrees hot right now."Bookmark here

"We'll save that hug for later-" Isaac brushed off the ashes on his coat which miraculously didn't disintegrate- "I want to know where the hell did all that fire came from."Bookmark here

Apparently, Isaac's question was immediately answered as less than a hundred yards away, the duo saw a huge wyvern raising havoc everywhere. And battling the wyvern were three of their fellow comrades.Bookmark here

"Is that?- Yes it is!" Isaac exclaimed.Bookmark here

"RYLEIGH!! MY FRIEND I'M HERE!!!" Isaac shouted, waving his arms up high.Bookmark here

Ryleigh somehow spotted Isaac from the distance and waved back happily. Unfortunately, he was immediately swiped away by the wyvern's tail and now, the monster too spotted the waving charred skeleton.Bookmark here

"Ah crap, its coming for us Jakob. Guess it's time for us to shine-" Isaac turned around and saw Jakob searching for something amidst the ruined cave-house.Bookmark here

"What are you doing Jakob!?"Bookmark here

"My pistols! I left it somewhere here!!" the hunter shouted back.Bookmark here

"Ah screw it, guess it's just you and me big guy!"Bookmark here

The wyvern roared at Isaac who stood his ground with an excited grin on his skull-face.Bookmark here

"There's no monster big enough for the Storm Revenant to handle! HURRAHHH!! "Bookmark here

With immense amount of electricity charged at his right fist, Isaac jumped straight for the monster's head. At this moment, the world was about to witness the clash between fire and storm.

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《 To Be Continued...|/|

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