Pumpkin King

Chapter 62

Lorelai tried to block out the pain and process what she just heard. "M-Murderer's? I've never killed anyone in my life!"

The thorns around her tightened their grip on her, eliciting a scream from her. "Quiet!" Rose screamed. "You're nothing but a group of liars and hit men. Pumpkin King is one of the worst dark guilds in history."

Lorelai and Azusa froze and looked at each other blankly. "Dark…guild?" Azusa finally asked.

Lorelai tried to shrug, but the thorns just dug deeper. "I think," she said after a wince, "she's delusional."

Then Rose was in front of her and slapped her. Hard. Azusa winced. So did Angel. There was a large red mark on Lorelai's face afterwards. "What did I just say?" She asked coldly. "Be. Quiet." Lorelai had to suppress a shudder of fear. "You killed my family. You burned down my home. You took my Wave away from me." More vines erupted from the ground, slowly wrapping around Lorelai until only her head was visible. "The Magic Council may be too afraid to oppose you, but I'm not."

Lorelai's eyes widened in confusion before the vines completely covered her. Even if she did speak, no one would hear her.

Rose turned to Azusa. The girl was still too shocked and confused to realize what was happening. Pumpkin King a dark guild? Impossible. Her friends were too kind to be involved in anything like that. True, she was still new. This was her first real mission with them. But she refused to believe what this woman was saying.

Rose kept getting closer and closer. Azusa didn't know what to do. She didn't want to petrify her. She didn't want to petrify anyone ever again. But she wasn't sure what else to do. No one could blame her. This was her first real fight. Freezing was natural. Right?

Then the fire started. It was just a flicker at first, but Azusa's eyes flicked towards it immediately. That caught Rose's attention. She turned around immediately to see embers erupting out of the vine cocoon. The entire thing suddenly burst into flame, revealing a battered Lorelai. Her clothes were ripped and torn from the thorns as well as a bit burned in places by the very fire that freed her. She was breathing heavily. She had to use all of the remaining oxygen in the cocoon to call up the fire.

Blazing rose petals flitted to the ground around her. At the sight of them, Rose backed away with fear in her eyes.

"I don't know what you've been told." She said after catching her breath. "I don't care what you think." She stalked towards the plant wizard, a rainbow of colors falling from her fingers. There was a time for timid. There was a time for being scared. But she had not only tried to kill her, but was smearing the name of her guild. It was time to act. She was mad. "But don't you DARE threaten my friends!" She pushed at the air with her arms. "Dandelion Twister!"

White dandelion puffs floated through the air, bringing with them gusts of wind powerful enough to push Rose off balance and pull her into the air. She screamed as the wind threw her into different directions, tearing at her clothes and hair.

Then, with a growl of defiance, she extended her arms as vines shot out of the ceiling and wrapped around her arms, stabilizing her in midair. With a shout, she flung herself at Lorelai, pushing through the torrents of wind.

But Lorelai wasn't going to let her have her way. She went to her knees and thrust her palms to the floor. "Petunia Earth Breaker!" A giant stone petunia erupted from the floor, directly in Rose's path.

The dark wizard had to use her vines to steer out of the way before she hit the structure face first. Freeing one of her arms, she extended it towards Lorelai. More vines grew underneath the girl, trying to ensnare her on their thorns.

Jumping out of the way, Lorelai let a few blazing rose petals fall on the vines in her wake, making the plants catch fire. Unfortunately for Rose, she had been swinging directly at Lorelai. So when she landed amongst the burning vines, the flames licked at her as well. She let out an ear piercing scream as the fire enveloped her.

During this time, Azusa had been watching. She wanted to rush to help her friend, but the moment she stepped forward, her nerves got the best of her again. What would she do to help? She might accidentally turn her own guild mate to stone with as much as a look. She had already almost done it once since this whole thing started. But what else could she do? She was so scared that she couldn't concentrate enough to change her eyes to any of their other colors.

She had to do something though. Steeling herself, she started to run to Lorelai's aid. But then immediately stopped when Angel appeared in front of her. She floated in front of her, her expression blank. At her feet floated a black cat, rubbing itself against her leg affectionately. The cat was almost impossibly black, the kind of darkness you get when you look into the night sky on especially bleak nights. It looked as if it simply absorb the light around it.

"You shouldn't meddle with someone else's fight." Angel muttered. It almost seemed like she was pouting. "Rose is a meanie. I was supposed to kill you two." The pout seemed…odd to Azusa. She was talking about killing them, but her tone made it sound like she was talking about someone taking away her toy. It sounded…so very innocent. A little girl like that should have never been involved with a fight like this.

But even so, she was trying to kill them. Azusa walled off her emotions as she looked at the little girl. "Move aside. I'm going to go help Lorelai."

Azusa's blank expression changed to a slightly annoyed one. "No. Even though Rose interrupted our fight, that one is hers. I won't let you interrupt. That would be rude." She raised a hand and a ball of condensed darkness rose from the cat at her feet and coalesced in the palm of her hand.

She threw it at Azusa, but the Azusa was so scared that her body was filled with adrenaline. She jumped out of the way quickly. The ball didn't even come close to her. She turned to watch as the ball hit the floor. When it did, it created a crater far bigger than a ball that size should have. It was large enough that Azusa would have had a hard time climbing out of it.

"W-What kind of magic is that!?"

Angel looked at her with more innocence than someone trying to murder you should have. She put her fingers to her cheeks cutely and said, "My magic."

Azusa couldn't think of any kind of response to that. But she didn't need one. The room began to rumble as an ear shattering screech filled the room. Both Azusa and Angel looked over to see Rose rolling around on fire, trying to put herself out. But as she did, the screaming just got louder and louder and the rumbling got worse and worse.

Then vines started bursting from every available space, the floors, the walls, and the ceiling. And they weren't the typical vines Roes had been using. They could comfortably walk on every single root that twisted its way into the room. And the thorns were large enough to impale someone on. Azusa had to scurry away from one such thorn as it burst out of the ground beneath her.

Pretty soon, the entire room was blanketed in thorny vines. Azusa looked around desperately, trying to find Lorelai. But instead, she found Angel again. In her hand, she held another ball of darkness. "Now then, shall we play together?"

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