104 Red Lotus 2
The wounded vines spurted a purple liquid. Lith kept his distance, dodging the unknown substance with minimal movements, to not lose his advantage.
– “There was no sizzle when it hit the ground, so it’s not an acid. Could be venomous, thought.” –
Lith extended his arms, releasing two jets of fire from the palms. The appendages reacted quickly, enveloping the creature’s towering mass, and turning to a grey colour. The flames had no effect, leaving only a black mark, like they had hit stone.
Lith had never met a plant monster before, so he was particularly cautious. He kept several spells ready to use, weaving a new one as soon another was consumed.
– “Whatever this is, it doesn’t seem to be able to move from that spot, running away shouldn’t be an issue. The problem is deciding if it’s worth my time or not. With my luck, if I kill, it the flower will wither instantly. –
Sending and invisible tendril of pure mana, Lith used spirit magic to tug hard at the red lotus, aiming to grab it and run. He had no desire to fight useless battles. The flower’s stem bent diagonally under the strain, but refused to move.
The plant monster screeched again, this time with fury.
– “Look out!” Solus yelled. “It’s coming from below!” –
Lith scoffed at the creature’s naivety, activating again his flight spell. But when he tried to lift from the ground, he discovered that the grass was tightly binding his feet, preventing him from moving.
Observing it with Life Vision once more, he discovered that the patch of grass below him had become blue coloured too. Somehow it was part of the monster’s body.
Before he could recover, several vines erupted from the ground, with their greyed stone-like extremities trying to stab Lith’s vital organs. Knowing an attack was incoming, Lith used earth fusion to the extreme, hardening his body and using the arms to take off the brunt of the impact.
Despite his iron bracers and magical protections, the vines managed to pierce his skin, digging right into his flesh. Lith screamed in pain, while the tendrils kept digging in his own flesh, without missing a single drop of blood.
Without allowing himself to panic, Lith used his Frozen Hearth spell, turning everything around him into ice. Be them grey or green, fire hadn’t done much damage to the tendrils, so he had changed element.
Having become brittle from the sudden cold, Lith managed to break free from both the vines and the grass, flying backwards trying to understand what was happening.
His wounds were covered in a purple sticky goo, he could feel his arms going numb, a tingling sensation was invading his body. After what had happened with the Clackers, he always kept a detoxifying spell ready, using it together with a healing spell to close the wounds.
– “What the heck is happening? How does it control the grass? It makes no sense.” –
Lith’s and Solus’ minds were spinning at top gear, trying to make head or tails of the creature. While he was still in a daze, both the grass and the tendrils thawed in the blink of an eye. Like fire, water magic seemed to have little effect.
Without stopping, Lith activated Life Vision again, seeing a blue streak moving like a flash through the ground vegetation, following him closely.
– “Solus, what colour is its core? I don’t like this at all!”
“That thing has no core at all. It’s just a random mass of energy, I have never seen anything like that. I don’t remember reading about something that even resembles this thing. It’s too monstrous to forget.” –
A cold shiver ran down Lith’s spine. His first plant monster didn’t seem to follow any of the magic rules he had learned so far. No core, resistant to ice and fire and capable of controlling the vegetation. The only words that could describe his feelings were: fear of the unknown.
He had spent years learning magic, looking out for stronger cores, but now everything he knew had just went down the gutter.
Even flying backwards in a zig-zag pattern was useless, the blue streak kept tailing him. Lith couldn’t risk running into a tree, so he moved up and away from the ground.
From a higher ground, he could see that there was actually more than one streak moving, while the mass of vines the red lotus was attached to had turned grey. According to Life Vision, only the flower remained coloured.
Lith’s head was spinning in shock.
– “So now the ‘main body’ is dead and the ground seems a disco ball? But that would mean that more than its mana, somehow Life Vision actually perceives its consciousness. That thing must be capable of switching bodies at will.
That would explain how it could control even the grass, and why there is no wildlife at all…”
“F*ck us sideways!” Solus cut him short. “The trees! Look out for the trees!” –
Despite their mind link was instantaneous, when Solus warned him the attack was already inbound.
The bark of the nearest beech had peeled off, revealing to be a mass of vines wrapped around the real tree trunk, and now were darting toward the unsuspecting Lith. Before he could turn around, they wrapped around his arms and legs, slamming him against the trunk before starting to eat him alive.
Excruciating pain assaulted Lith from all sides, yet he managed to remain conscious with sheer willpower. His hands grabbed the nearest vines while he activated one of the spells he had created after learning tier four magic.
Vampiric Touch, a twisted version of the healing spells Vastor had taught him.
While normally such spells would enhance the recovery of a patient and give him energy to survive the procedure, Vampiric Touch would heal Lith instead, draining the victim of its energy in the process.
When the plant monster realized what was happening, it was too late. The tendrils had gone too deep, and by clenching his muscles with the help of earth fusion, Lith prevented them to escape.
The dark energy devoured the tendrils, sucking them dry while restoring Lith’s flesh and vitality. The vines withered at a speed visible at the naked eye, until the fake bark collapsed on the ground, revealing that the beech underneath was long dead.
The creature’s consciousness managed to ran away, going back to the main body.
Lith used Invigoration to recuperate, Vampiric Touch couldn’t heal so many deep wounds with such a measly meal as a foundation. After that, he shot several Plague Arrows against the other trees.
As soon as they hit, the fake bark fell off. Lith understood that the luscious forest around the creature’s main body was actually a plant graveyard. Two more Plague Arrows hit the ground, even the grass writhed and screeched before dying.
“I don’t know what the heck you are, but you are too dangerous to let you live. Everything has become part of your body, and I have no desire to find out how far you control can go.”
Keeping Life Vision always active put a great strain on his body, but Lith understood that it was his only chance of making it alive.
Before going back to the ground, he released from his body a dark aura, the same he had used against the Wither in the Trawn woods. The darkness energy attacked indiscriminately everything in a ten-meter (33 feet) radius from him.
The grass withered, the vines hidden underground died, leaving only bare earth around him. Only then Lith started weaving his strongest darkness spell, Death Zone.
A black, thick mist appeared in front of him, resembling a small storm cloud, only twenty meters (66 feet) long and wide, around three meters (10 feet) high. After conjuring it, Lith needed only a thought to send it towards the creature’s main body.
Like all darkness spells, Death Zone moved slowly, but its destructive power was unmatched. It was the perfect weapon against an enemy that could not run away.
The cloud destroyed everything on its path, while the creature’s screeching turned from angry to scared, and from scared to terrified. It tried to attack Lith to stop the incoming attack, but between Life Vision and the dark aura, none of them came even close.
He could see every one of them in slow motion, not only because of his heightened senses, but also because dark magic would weaken and corrupt everything that entered its range.
When Death Zone reached its target, the creature recalled to itself all the dispersed consciousness, in a last desperate attempt for survival. Yet both Lith and his spell were unrelenting, foiling all its attacks the former, ignoring them the latter.
Whatever mass the monster managed to form, it would only become nourishment for the dark energy.
“Please, stop!” The creature spoke.
Lith remained unfazed, keeping his guard and letting Death Zone do its jobs.
“I’m just like you.”
“No, you are not. You are about to die.”
The main body was shrinking, without the necessary energy to sustain that huge form, it was reverting to a much smaller plant. An ivy.
– “Lith, now that all the energy is finally in one place, I can finally see its core. It’s…
“Black.” Lith completed the thought for her.
“It’s another Abomination. I understood it when I saw how every life form was dead. This one seems to have managed to stabilize itself.” –
“I just wanted to live. I…”
Lith didn’t let it continue, shooting Plague Arrows like a machine-gun.
– “Two things I learned from horror movies.” He explained to Solus.
“First, never give a sh*t about a monster backstory. No matter how sobbing, it would not prevent it to eat you as soon as you turn your back to it. Second, the moment it’s down, kill it until he is really, really dead.” –
With a last, roaring wail the plant Abomination died. Suddenly the whole space around Lith turned into a wasteland. The grass turned into ash, the fake bark decayed leaving only dead trees behind.
Everything in over a fifty-meter (164 feet) radius was identical to where he had fought the Wither in the Trawn woods, with only one exception.
The red lotus lied on the ground, shining bright like nothing had happened.