August 9th, 2016 | Published in Dragon Wars
“Damn! It’s hot here!” The heat was the first thing Ophelia noticed about the place they’d jumped into. The smell was the second. “Ewww… it stinks.” She wrinkled her nose at the foetid air and looked over at Kira, who was leaning against a tree looking green. “Are you okay?”
“You think it’s bad,” Kira said. “Imagine what’s it like for me. My sense of smell is sharper than yours.” She stood there a moment longer, looking around. “Can you see that crystal thing?”
Ophelia suppressed a chuckle. Kira had landed looking in entirely the wrong direction but she could see it clearly. At least she could once she leant around the tree the Key had placed them behind. It had landed them in a patch of cover upwind of the spar that rose from a swampy clearing like a huge, jagged finger. The Kithreian guard was sitting on top of it just as in the vision. Its posture and expression suggested it was bored with its mission. Good, that meant it was not expecting trouble.
She took another quick look around the tree and saw that the cracks from the vision were starting to appear, though they were nowhere near as extreme â€“ just faint hairlines in the fabric of the universe. Still, she could sense the hungry thing through them. She tapped Kira on the shoulder and pointed the crystal out to her.
“Right, do we have any sort of plan other than rush it and hope?” she asked. “I saw you talking to Dad after the lesson â€“ please say he had some insights on how to do this.”
“Unfortunately not,” Ophelia admitted. “He said to trust my instincts and the Key. Hopefully that will be enough.”
Kira couldn’t have looked more dubious if she tried. “Well the Key will know what to do, I guess, but it’s not good to rely on it that way.”
“I know, but it’s the only chance we have.” Ophelia closed her eyes and felt for the Kithreian guard’s energy in an attempt to clue herself into what weapon would be best to use. As it turned out, she didn’t need to. The Key responded by materialising a crystalline mace in her hands. “Eh?” Ophelia opened her eyes and stared at it. “I guess the Key is expressing its opinion.”
“Well it’s certainly expressing something,” Kira said. “Which is something else it has never done before. It’s a good weapon for fighting an air affinity though, but really where does it get these things?” She paused as the Key showed them something else â€“ the guard darting around, dodging Ophelia’s blows and flinging super-fast attacks at her. It was so fast it seemed nothing but a blur. Ophelia didn’t think the Key was exaggerating either. Kira was certainly unsurprised. “Yes, we already knew it was fast.
“Thanks for the warning.” Ophelia took one last look from their hiding place. “Okay, let’s do this.” She closed her eyes and concentrated on getting her shield up and secure. Then she waited for her opponent to look in the opposite direction. Once it did, she raced out of hiding, leapt into the air and flew at high speed towards it, swinging the mace in what she hoped would be a crushing attack.