Attracting the elemental’s attention, the part I thought would be the easiest, turned out to be comically difficult. Our entire team exposed ourselves and flared our mana. We shouted at the elemental. We threw rocks at it. It simply ignored us. We were left feeling frustrated, annoyed and extremely silly for even trying so hard to hide ourselves in the first place.
It was understandable when one thought about it. The elemental was like a noob that had never exercised in its entire life suddenly deciding to do a hundred push ups continuously. Of course, it had failed half way through and now, it was dead tired and its cramping muscles were giving it hell. What would such a person do if a bunch of mosquitoes started buzzing around it? Nothing, that’s what.
To really get it chasing us like we wanted, us “mosquitoes” would have to actually bite it. And I happened to be the stinger.
Closing my eyes, I expanded my mana senses to the vortex of fire mana permeating the chamber. I was familiar with vortices. After all, I had spent most of my childhood practising underwater, trying to control the flows of the water into a coherent vortex while I was training in my Thunderclap Samsara Palms. I knew how to make vortices… I knew how to break them.
The elemental was extremely tired, yet it was spending so much mental effort to run the mana vortex, it was safe to assume that it was extremely important for its recovery. Thus, disturbing it was sure to garner its hatred.
Opening my eyes, “Spread out and go into stealth,” I warned before reaching out for the swirling fire mana… and PULLED.
Fire mana is naturally unruly and prefers to stay in a chaotic form. Ordering it into a vortex requires a lot of precision and effort. What I was doing was like putting a spanner in the works. Immediately, the vortex became turbulent.
The effects were palpable. There was a deep rumbling from the centre of the lake and the entire surface of the bubbling and churning pool of liquid rock smoothened out as if something had pressed down on it and flattened it out. My tenuous link to the fire mana snapped as a force much stronger seized it and forcibly set it moving in a predetermined path.
I staggered back from the mental backlash until Azure steadied me with his hands on my shoulder. So, that could still happen. After I had lost my mindscape, I thought that I was immune to any sort of backlash but it seemed that a lost battle for dominance over the same bit of mana could still hurt me.
“Are you alright?” asked Marshal Canis.
Wiping away the blood that had leaked from my nose with the back of my hand, I replied, “Fine.”
Closing my eyes and focusing on the weak points of the vortex again, I gently nudged the streams of mana aside, gradually increasing the disorder. Destruction was much easier than creation and while the elemental was much stronger in its control over the mana, I was gaining the winning side. And since I was using a guerrilla tactic, I didn’t have to worry about the backlash from a direct confrontation. Finally, driven beyond the limits of its forbearance, it rose out of the centre of the lake with an ear-splitting roar.
The shockwave of sound created ripples on the still surface of the magma before it slammed into us. The multi-layered shield of vacuum and compressed air that Azure had speedily set up barely held on, protecting us from the fate of burst eardrums and a massive concussion. Only the gigantic head of the elemental had risen out of the lake and it was looking at us with baleful eyes.
Its head was shaped like a fox. A fox made of pure blue flames. Its eyes smouldered with a raging white fire and when it opened its mouth to roar, I got a glimpse of its throat that burnt with the same incandescent white flames. The dense white smoke that had covered it had been blown away by its roar and was slowly drifting back.
When its eyes locked on to us, I felt a primal fear seep deep into my bones. Forcibly suppressing the terror, I forced out the words, “Watch out!” as I felt the mana condense around the elemental’s maw.
The flames within its gullet flared up and a white-hot jet of flames shot out of its mouth directed at us. The flames rapidly enlarged in our vision, before shadows burst out of Marshal Canis, wrapped us in them and then collapsed in on themselves, teleporting us out of the path of the flames.
We reappeared from the shadows of a large boulder, wrapped in the Marshal’s Domain and concealed by her Stealth spell. My eyes widened when I saw the damage created by a casual spell of the elemental. The jet of fire had first touched the magma lake, drawing a slowly healing furrow in it before moving forwards along with the angle of the elemental’s mouth, melting the hard, volcanic rocks of the bank of the lake into lava before it had finally hit the wall of the chamber and punched a glowing hole in it.
I heard Azure cursing under his breath: “Fuck fuck fuck fuckity fuck.”
My thoughts were the same.
Thankfully, the part about the elemental having poor senses was true and it couldn’t see through the shadow stealth all three teams had cast. Thinking that it had vaporized the annoying bugs, it huffed in a satisfied manner and began to sink into the magma again.
Clenching my fists to prevent them from shaking and gulping my nervousness down into the pit of my stomach, I reached out and disturbed the mana vortex again while Marshal Canis dropped our stealth.
The elemental froze. Then slowly, mechanically, it turned its head towards us in eerie silence. Then with a loud roar, it shot out of the magma, this time revealing its entire upper body. It was a slender, androgynous form with the arms and torso of a human but the head of a fox, all made out of solidified blue flames. The red magma showered off its body as it rose up from the lake and towered over it. Just its upper half was over ten metres tall. It was a colossus.
It raised both of its hands out of the magma, making a fist. Molten rock showered down from its hands as the elemental raised them above its head. Because of its size, the movement looked slow but it was blazingly fast. Ripples proliferated on the magma, as it brought them slamming down onto the surface of the lake. The ripples grew into a gigantic wave of molten rock that bore down upon us.
Grabbing both Marshal Canis and I by the arms, Azure gave full play to his Domain and lightened and accelerated us as we tried to outrun the fiery wave, the billowing heatwave scorching our backs.