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Sunday, November 23, 2008 The Armor of Righteousness - Part 3

The giant drowns himself farther down the pit, and doesn’t come up again. The champions exchange puzzled looks upon this unexpected action.

‘What? Is he fooling us or something?’ Hernan retorts.

‘We didn’t beat the efreet,’ says Andreas. ‘The deal is off and we have failed in our mission.’

‘If that’s so, we better go back. We are done here.’

‘No, Don Hernan. We are not done yet,’ says Alexis. ‘We better wait a bit longer. That tricky efreet must be up to something.’

Hernan and Andreas don’t respond to that. They just stay in place. Carolyn doesn’t talk or react at all. She just waits...

‘Your blow almost lost me an eye, red-haired one,’ the efreet’s voice comes. ‘You didn’t kill me, but you did defeat me. You may pass.’

Suddenly, floating stone platforms come up from the pit. The champions observe the platforms first: They are not too difficult to jump to, even for Andreas. The problem is: some are moving up and down, some revolving, and some to-and-fro horizontally. Jumping over them needs good timing and concentration. Failing even once will send them into the pit of death.

So, they proceed cautiously. Studying the platform movements carefully and letting Hernan be in front. Just as the going gets good, something, no, several things disrupt their concentration. Some fireball-like creatures fly out from the lava pit and dart towards the champs. They can’t fly fast, but each fireball has menacing eyes and a broad mouth with fangs, making its face ghost-like.

Carolyn shoots one fireball monster with her quick Lightning Bolt spell, but instead of killing it, the monster gets bigger instead. Andreas immediately shouts.

‘CAREFUL, Carol! It’s a lava bomb! It’ll get bigger and stronger after absorbing attacks. If it can’t get any bigger, it’ll shudder. You must kill it before it blows up! Even with protection field, the damage will be severe!’

‘Got it, teacher!’ says Carolyn. Alexis and Hernan nod at Andreas as thanks.

Two lava bombs get close to Alexis, and the prince attacks both of them with the two-sword slash combo, Phoenix Wings. The two bombs get bigger and dart again to him with jaws open wide. Again, Alexis hits them with the same technique. He repeats this process two more times until the bombs shudder. Alexis quickly finishes them with another Phoenix Wings combo, shredding them to pieces before they explode.

Hernan only applies water-based moves two times to make a bomb shudder. But another bomb bites his sword so he can’t make a move. The bomb explodes near Hernan! KA-BLAAAM! Throwing him away from the platform. Luckily, the other platform is near enough so Hernan lands there. His old wounds re-open, plus wounds from the explosion. His condition is critical.

Seeing Hernan in that state, Andreas evades the attacking lava bombs, knocking one after another lightly so they don’t get bigger, and taking bits of damage too. He leaps on the platform where Hernan lays, and begins applying Viavitali, the Great Heal spell on the fencer.

Knowing that her magic will have no effect on the lava bombs, Carolyn follows Andreas’ example by hitting and poking the bombs with her trident just to drive them away. She comes near Andreas and covers him from attacks. There are three people on one narrow platform, leaving Alexis to do the kills.

Carol scolds Andreas, ‘How dare you do you work without someone’s protection? You could’ve been killed, you know!?’

The dwarf answers, ‘If I didn’t move fast and heal Hernan, he would die. It was only first aid, and won’t take long.’

‘At least just ask my help first. I can repel those nasty bombs for you.’

‘Thanks, Carol. I’ll keep that in mind.’

Hernan recovers from critical condition five minutes later, thanks to his mythril armor and Andreas’ intense spell. His physique is still weak, but his fighting spirit forces him to get up. He looks around: Carolyn is overwhelmed by the attacks of four lava bombs, and Andreas is sitting down, exhausted, trying to replenish his aura with fresh mana from spirit potion.

‘Allow me to return the favor!’ Hernan shouts.

A lava bomb darts towards Carol, and the Don blocks it with one of his strongest moves, the rotating slash combo for maximum defense and offense, Maelstrom Serenade. The bomb is sucked into the whirlpool-like effect created by the skill and gets disintegrated entirely before it can even absorb it.

Another two bounce off from Carol’s trident and dart more quickly to Hernan. The fencer still activates his ultimate whirlpool defense frontally. A bomb gets sucked in, but the other slides away to attack from the other side.

‘No trick can work on me twice!’ shouts Hernan. He turns his sword movement aside and sucks the second bomb into extinction. After that, he ends his skill. Hernan’s aura shines to its fullest extent and his spirit burns powerfully.

The four surviving lava bombs sense that power and flee, scattering everywhere. Seeing that he doesn’t have to use Maelstrom Serenade anymore, Hernan uses this excessive power to carry Andreas across, jumping one platform after another with speed and power way beyond his nature. They land on the solid ground and Hernan’s aura turns back to normal. His injuries take over again and he collapses.

Alexis and Carolyn catch up with them fifteen minutes later. The prince asks Andreas, ‘How’s Don Hernan?’

‘His fighting spirit has forced his body beyond limit, and now he must rest. I’ve given him two doses of healing potion and he’s out of danger now,’ the dwarf answers, administering Vitali spell to remove scratches and bruises on the don’s hand and face.

Carolyn scowls and then comments, ‘Huff... Though I hate to admit it, but the don has saved our necks back there.’

Hernan answers with a weak voice, ‘Thank you... for the compliment... sweetie.’

Carolyn snorts and kicks Hernan on his shin, then walks away, murmuring ‘pervert’ and the like.

‘OWOWOWOWWW!!!’ The flirty Don yells in pain.

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