A bit of fear of the Yggdrasil Labyrinth was considered healthy.
But for Lynus, who found himself stumbling over a tree root for the umpteenth time, it was downright terrifying.
He had his wrists tied together in a strong binding in front of him and was being pulled along with a leash that led to his captor. Add in the factor that the sun had well and truly set, so the forests of the labyrinth were bathed in a dense darkness and he had little idea of where he was. And he was with a group of people he did not know nor trust, whom of which smuggled him past the knights guarding the entrance. And his own guild had no idea where he was.
Also, let's not forget all the medical healing he had performed at the hospital, so he was tired and was struggling to keep up.
He was ill-prepared and ill-equipped for a midnight jaunt in the labyrinth.
Not that Avith, the Dark Hunter who had actually kidnapped him, cared very much. All he wanted was revenge on the monster that killed three of his guild members. That was all that he was focusing on.
Which was not a good thing.
Lynus tripped over something on the ground. Unable to throw out a hand in order to steady himself, he was about the hit the labyrinth's floor. Suddenly, an arm wrapped around his middle, keeping him up off the ground and steadying him.
"Easy," a voice said.
Lynus lifted his gaze to look at another Dark Hunter, he with white hair and dark skin. He was a member of Avith's guild, which he now knew the name of. The Fury Alliance was a pretty small guild, or it was now at least. There were three members, including Avith.
He had been introduced to them briefly before being pulled into the Labyrinth. He managed to get their names, but know not much else about them. The other two members were Rahas, the Dark Hunter who was helping him stay on his feet with a surprisingly gentle touch. And there was Binah, a Troubadour.
She looked rather out of place with the two Dark Hunters. She was small and thin, with bright pink hair and was wearing a dancer's outfit, a tambourine in her hands. She was merrily skipping along behind Avith, acting as though it was nothing more than an evening walk. She didn't look even remotely ready to face any type of monsters here. She wasn't wearing any armour to begin with.
And they were it. There was no one else.
So that was the reason why Lynus was so terrified right now. If the monster they had faced before killed three of their guild members, what made them think the three of them was strong enough to face it alone? Even with a medic there at their backs, it was going to be near impossible. Their need for revenge was clouding any rational judgement.
"We shouldn't be doing this right now, Avith," Rahas suddenly spoke as he helped Lynus back to his feet. "It's dark; we can barely see a thing. And let's not forget the minor detail that you kidnapped a medic from the hospital, where he had been healing explorers all day long."
Even though it was dark, Lynus could make out a smirk on Avith's face, something he was learning he wore all the time. "What's you point, Rahas?" he asked.
"This is suicide!" Rahas suddenly hissed.
"Don't you want revenge?" Avith suddenly asked, his tone of voice terse and harsh.
"Of course I do," Rahas' reply was just as sharp. "But I also want to live to explore another day."
Avith gave a sharp tug of the leash that was tied to Lynus' wrists, making him lurch forward. Lynus then found himself pressed up against Avith's chest, his hands trapped between them as Avith slipped an arm against the small of his back.
Lynus couldn't hold back a cringe and tried to push away from him. But Avith was surprisingly strong and all Lynus could do was turn his face to look at anything else but him.
"That's why we have a medic now," Avith said, his breath ghosting against Lynus' ear, making him cringe again. "He'll do the healing while we do the battling. Simple, really."
"Avith, you kidnapped him!" Rahas said around a sigh of exasperation as he reached forward and managed to get a hold of Lynus, all but ripping him out of Avith's grip. "He shouldn't even be here," he said as he pushed Lynus behind him. "This isn't his problem."
A moment of silence stretched out as Avith and Rahas' glared at each other. Binah stayed quiet in the background, her head tilted to the side in curiosity.
Lynus stayed quiet as well, hoping that Avith wasn't as vengeful and reckless as he appeared, that he did have some sense to see that Rahas was right. It wasn't too late to turn back now. If that didn't work, his only other hope was that a guard would stumble across them. But with his recent run of luck, that won't happen. He was surprised that they managed to get this far without bumping into another team. And, then again, if they did meet up with someone else, Avith might attack them in return. So Lynus didn't know what to think.
He just wanted out.
"Could you at least untie my hands?" Lynus asked quietly, holding up his bound wrists. "I can't heal without the use of my hands. And it's not like I can actually run away. I'm not stupid."
Suddenly, a beastly roar caused the surrounding area to vibrate. Lynus tensed, as did everyone else, and became quiet. Avith's head whipped around toward the source of the sound and emitted a low chuckle.
"At last," he muttered. "We found the bastard."
Lynus' heart began to beat harder in his chest as the sound of rustling bushes grew closer and closer. The monster, whatever it was, had obviously caught scent of them and was heading straight there way.
If only Lynus had his bag with him.
"Don't worry," Rahas said to Lynus under his breath as he drew his weapon. "I won't let anything happen to you."
As reassuring as that was meant to be, it did little to ease Lynus' nerves. What would make him feel a whole lot better was if someone from his own guild was here to protect him instead.
What he really wanted was Axel.
The ground beneath their feet began to tremble, signalling that something large and powerful was coming. And by the way the shaking of the ground was becoming stronger every second it was moving quickly. And aggressively.
Then, appearing like a bullet from the tree line was a grey, prehistoric monster. Large and fearsome, the beast's aggression increased the moment it was able to visibly lay eyes on them.
Lynus broke out in a cold sweat. It was a Raptor. He had seen it before, one of a few who did and survived. If it wasn't for their leader's quick thinking, maybe he and his fellow guild members wouldn't be around today.
"You can't be serious?" Lynus said to Rahas, turning to look at him.
Rahas didn't return his look, though. He kept his focus on the rumbling and snarling monster. There was a bit of hesitancy in his posture, but he tightened his grip on his whip. It seemed as if he realised that there was no turning back now.
"Let's go!" Avith ordered, cracking his whip.
Lynus was abruptly shoved out of the way by Rahas and onto the ground a few feet back. With his hands still bound, he struggled to push himself into a sitting position. He looked up to see both Rahas and Avith engaging the monster in battle, while Binah stayed far back, singing and cheering the two on.
He hoped that she knew some powerful song magic as the more he watched Avith and Rahas battle, the more concerned he became. It seemed that they were busy dodging attacks than landing any themselves. There was no way they could keep that up forever.
Suddenly, another monster entered the fray. It was another Raptor.
Lynus nearly stopped breathing as the large grey monster charged into the clearing. Rahas and Avith were having difficulties with one monster. How could they possibly hope to take on two?
He then noticed that the monster wasn't going to the other Raptor's aide. Instead, its attention was drawn elsewhere. It seemed to be distracted by Binah's dancing and singing.
"Binah!" Lynus called out to her. He was too far away to get to her, the monster in-between them. And Avith and Rahas' attention were focused on the other monster.
Binah abruptly stopped her song and stood stock still. Slowly, she turned to look at the approaching monster.
"Don't just stand there!" Lynus yelled to her. "Run!"
But the little girl was frozen in place, an expression of sheer horror on her face. She stared up at the Raptor as it towered over her. Her Tamborine slipped from her hand as the Raptor opened its large mouth and then…
Lynus abruptly looked away as the sound of bones breaking and flesh being ripped apart caused him to dry heave. He couldn't bear to look up. He didn't want to see. There was nothing he could do. No amount of healing could help her now.
"Binah!" came Avith's scream of raw and unadulterated horror. "You bastard!"
Lynus managed to push himself to his feet and looked up in time to witness Avith's suffer a direct hit from the Raptor as it charged toward him. He flew several feet into the air and landed on the ground, hard. Then, he stopped moving.
There was still a chance to help him, Lynus thought to himself as he leaned his shoulder against a tree in order to support himself. But he froze when he felt someone's, or something's, gaze fall onto him. It was a very distinct and terrifying feeling, making the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Trying not to make any sudden movements, he turned around and immediately his vision was filled with that of a snarling monster.
Slowly, the Raptor stalked over to him. It loomed over him, blood dripping from its razor sharp teeth. With a tree pressed against his back and his hands still bound, there wasn't anything he could do. He had no weapon, no offensive magic. Avith out of reach for him to heal, Rahas trapped by the other Raptor. And poor Binah…
He was alone.
Lynus broke out into a cold sweat, the sting of tears welling in his eyes. He was going to be killed. He didn't want it to end like this. If he was to die, he wanted to be with his guild members. They were his friends, his family. He didn't want to die alone.
What about Axel? How would he feel? Would he want revenge? Would he blame himself?
Lynus could feel the heated and nauseating breath of the Raptor now. His heart was pounding, his mind racing. There was a very slim chance that he could outrun one Raptor. But two? No. He couldn't. It was over. All over.