The Amber Sword - v4c59




The power of the Dragon of War! 

Malourcha seemed to sense the change in Brendel. Some instinctive sense for danger made it more cautious and it struck an attack pose again. It lowered its head and pawed at the ground with its hooves. A cloud of white steam came out of its nose. Then its back hooves kicked at the ground hard and it darted forward like a loosened arrow. Suddenly, it vanished from everyone’s sight, as if disappearing into thin air. 

But Brendel was an exception. He reached both hands forward -- bang! The world seemed to freeze and Malourcha crashed head-first into Brendel’s hands. It stopped as if it hit a wall. With a loud bursting sound, its explosive gusts expanded the air and whipped up Brendel’s clothes as well as his fringe as it blew past him. 

Brendel had to slide backwards a few steps before the energy fully released, but at least it wasn’t a one-sided beating anymore. He can fight this! His hands went from blocking to grasping and grabbed the other’s horn. 

“Did you think I could only swing a sword?” Brendel bared his white teeth and twisted his hands. With a loud yell, he threw Malourcha into the ground. 

Crash!

The seemingly undefeatable demonized Crystal Stag crashed onto the snow-covered ground like a meteorite, accompanied by the fairy girl’s screams. Snow flew into the air as its figure dragged a deep gash into the ground, revealing the ashen dirt of a land exhausted of its magic. 

  It let out a shout of pain and paddled its four hooves as it struggled to right itself. Its neck turned in Brendel’s direction and it slashed its long horns. Three overlapping half-transparent waves flew across the dozen meters of space between them towards Brendel. 

Horn Scythe, one of the Crystal Stag’s basic attacks. But the default was a single air blade made of compressed air; after demonization, the attack has evolved to a triple strike. This kind of attack was the nemesis of shield knights and only the best knight players could counter it. But to Brendel, the attack wasn’t even worth mentioning. 

He backflipped and let the three air blade attacks fall upon the ground, leaving behind three gashes each about a meter long and half a meter deep. Brendel fell next to Halran Gaia embedded in the snow. He grabbed the Staff of Earth and yanked it from the ground. 

As its first strike hadn’t hit, Malourcha the stag reared the front half of its body so that its front hooves left the ground. 

Earthquake! 

 Brendel saw the strike and wanted to kill something. This was one of the must-have attacks for a heavyweight ungulate monster. But the Crystal Stag didn’t count as a heavyweight ungulate on Warndt; at the most it would be considered big. This should not be one of its attacks but clearly, it got added on because of the demonization process. 

Regardless of what Brendel felt, Malourcha stomped both of its front hooves down. With a loud rumble, Brendel saw the ground underneath Malourcha’s hooves sink down and then a wave, visible to the naked eye, rippled out in all directions. Then another one, and then a third one .

 Since Brendel hadn’t prepared himself for this, he had to rely only on his own reflexes to dodge this seismic wave. He pushed his body off with one hand and tried to get close to Malourcha from the air. But just as his body left the ground, he saw the Crystal Stag toss its head. 

Triple air blades instantaneously appeared in front of him. 

“Dammit to hell!” Brendel knew this guy was gonna play it like this. He hurriedly pulled out the Staff of Earth and blocked the attack. He was immediately knocked backwards by the force of the blow. 

 Like a meteor, he hit a Tree of Fog not far from him and the impact turned the crystalized tree into dust. 

Then the three shockwaves from Earthquake arrived and tossed him into the air and slammed him into the ground three times. Brendel could have puked up blood out of frustration. It should have been a simple matter for someone with his skill and experience to deal with a Crystal Stag; he hadn’t counted on meeting a demonized one. 

 Demonized monsters were variable and could be considered the nemesis of players like him, who relied on experience. 

He spat out mouthfuls of snow and dirt as he righted himself, but Malourcha clearly had no plans to let him go. Since the Crystal Stag didn’t have the advantage in close combat, it seemed to develop a liking to long distance attacks. It swung its long horns again and another three air blades shot perpendicular to the ground toward Brendel.  

The three air blades dragged across the ground like a plough and as it moved forward, the dirt and snow in its path were blown into the air until three deep scratch-like marks were left in the ground. Maynild, holding down the fairy girl in the not-so-far distance, had to frown upon seeing this. But as she looked down at the little captive in her hands, she discovered that the latter was fretting. 

“You seem to be worried about something?” She asked. 

The fairy girl shuddered and then hurriedly adopted a poker face, “Ab-absolutely not --” 

“Come to think of it, it looks like the Crystal Stag has to pay some price for its state right now. It must be using its life force, right?” Maynild only had to think for a moment to understand the connection between the two. 

“You… no, no!” 

“No need for you to answer, little one.” She looked up and told Brendel, “Brendel, drag this out. It can’t last much longer!” 

“How vile!” The little fairy shrieked. 

But Brendel didn’t want to drag the fight out at all, though he also saw that something was wrong with his opponent -- the dark fog surrounding it seemed to become denser and denser. He suddenly realized that the stag was suppressing the demonization process. If that was the case, then things would be easy to solve. 

As the three air blades rushed forward, Brendel swung the Staff of Earth upward from the ground. “Rise up for me, Resonance of the Earth!” 

A row of sharpened rocks, like fangs, extended from under the ground and rose up in front of the horn scythe. The half-transparent wave rushed across the forest path but it struck the rock and shattered alongside the hardened rock. 

A cloud of dust and fragments of stone exploded outwards. 

The demonized Crystal Stag Malourcha looked up, a little confused since it realized that it lost track of its opponent. Until a shout came from above it, “Where are you looking, little deer!” 

Malourcha raised its head instinctively, but all it saw was a white light descend from the skies and strike the center of its head. 

Flash Strike Sword Art -- “No!” The fairy girl called out in wretched agony. 

She had to shut her eyes in fear of seeing the bloody scene. But what she imagined didn’t come to pass because a black shield of light suddenly appeared on Malourcha’s head. Brendel’s Staff of Earth struck the black light shield and then bounced away. Brendel paused and took a step back, then he saw that only a light bloody scratch appeared on the demonized Crystal Stag’s forehead. 

Shield of Chaos. That was a technique commonly found among many powerful demonized creatures. It used dark magic as a means to counter various types of attack. 

Except for holy attacks. 

“This damned demonization!” Brendel cursed inside his brain. Then he immediately saw the wound on Malourcha’s forehead closing up and healing until all that was left was a fait mark. This was a power the Crystal Stags had -- the healing ability that originated from water elementals. 

But when Malourcha used this power, the dull color on its body darkened another shade. 

Brendel stopped when he saw this.

“If you keep fighting with me, you won’t be able to suppress the dark magic in you. You want to protect this forest, right? Protect those silly fairies. But if you keep doing this, you’ll turn into a milicrystal stag.” 

This was when Malourcha finally realized what it meant to have a hack. 

With a loud crash, the Staff of Earth delivered a heavy blow to the side of its neck. Though the black light appeared, it was still knocked into the air by the blow. The skin on its neck turned outwards and blue blood spilled out. 

The blood dripped onto the ground and immediately turned into crystallized blood, as beautiful as sapphires. 

The fairy girl’s sobs cut off suddenly. Her mouth was opened and her face pale as she watched the scene unfold. It seemed as if she was about to die herself. 

Malourcha’s four feet struggled vainly on the ground but the effort it took to simultaneously keep battling and suppressing the dark magic was too much. It cried out angrily but couldn't stand up.