Chapter 63. The Ferocious Twin Tails.
When the sun was at it’s highest our party decided to stop for a break to have some food. Unfortunately, it was difficult to start the fire and we didn’t want to waste too much time. We decided that cold food was better than no food.
People were still talking about the snowball fight when Rlani readied her bow.
- Is something wrong Rlani? - asked Sebastian.
- Enemies. - she said.
Everyone went quiet and reached for their weapons.
- I can’t see anything. - Horrace was looking around.
- Neither do I. - said Meera.
- Over there. On the hill. The snow is moving. - Rlani pulled her bow.
- The snow is moving? - Eve was puzzled.
I focused my gaze and could hardly believe my eyes. I’ve never seen creatures like the ones closing in.
- Get ready. - Roland gripped his sword.
- What are those? - Inri gasped.
- Let’s find out after we deal with them. - said Roland.
The white silhouettes were hardly seen on the snow. The four legged creatures were running extremely fast, occasionally jumping to the sides.
- ‘Swoosh!’ - Rlani released her arrow.
The monster quickly changed direction and dodged it.
- What? - Rlani was astonished.
- Here they come! - Roland took offensive stance.
- Graaahr! - their howls were as menacing as the creatures themselves.
- ‘Swoosh!’ - another arrow flew and missed the monster.
- I will slow them down! Eve try to catch them with your magic! - I ran forward.
- Yes Master! - she readied her staff.
- Raaaar! - one of them jumped at me.
- ‘Slash!’ - I was convinced my strike will reach it.
But the beast swiftly swung his tail at the ground and pushed itself to the side. I was dumbfounded by how it evaded my attack.
- What are those? - Inri exclaimed.
- Some kind of damn wolves! - shouted Horrace.
- Wolves can’t be that big! - Inri was shocked to see one up close.
- Focus on the fight! - yelled Roland.
- Raaar! - ‘Swipe!’ - ‘Bang!’ - one of them attacked Meera, but she blocked the attack with a shield.
- Huh? What? - the spot of her shield got frostbitten. - Be careful! If they reach you, you will get frostbitten.
Frostbitten? Meh... What a pain.
I stared at the beast standing in front of me. I taunted the creature to make it focus on me.
- ‘Slash!’ - it dodged my attack easily.
- Eve! - I shouted.
- Thorns! - she cast her spell.
But before the thorns grew the beast jumped away.
- What? My spell... it’s not effective! - Eve was at a loss.
That’s right. We’re on the frozen mountains. Can’t have things grow easy up here.
- Try to focus! - I encouraged her.
- ‘Swoosh!’ - Rlani released another arrow.
The beast jumped to the side quickly to evade it.
- How are they so fast? - she was flabbergasted.
It was unusual to see the beast have such fast reflexes. And of that size too. They looked like wolves, but much larger in size. More than double the size actually. Pure, white fur blended perfectly on the snow. Sharp teeth and fangs were frightening even from afar. In addition, an incredible magical mane was bristling around the creatures neck. The air was constantly being frozen around the beast. But the most amazing part about them was their tails. It was much bigger compared to a wolf’s tail and, as frightening as the creature was, it also was incredibly beautiful.
What a magnificent creature. So fierce and yet so beautiful. I’d love to have one as a pet, haha. Snow wolf would be a fitting name for you.
- Thorns Wall! - Eve cast more powerful spell.
This time magic thorns grew as fast as they normally do and blocked the path of one of the snow wolves. It had to stop in it’s tracks to change direction.
- Piercing Arrow! - Rlani released her magic arrow at the beast.
It tried to dodge, but Thorns Wall blocked one side of it’s escape.
- ‘Swoosh!’ - the arrow pierced the beast’s front leg.
- Howl! - it howled from pain.
- Master Roland! Now! Shield Absorption! - Meera blocked another side to prevent creature’s escape.
- ‘Swipe!’ - the beast tried to claw at her, but Meera’s shield absorbed the hit.
- Windcut Slash! - Roland swung with all his might.
- ‘Boom!’ - the snow wolf was blown away by his attack.
However, it wasn’t enough to take the creature down. It tried to stand up.
- No way! How tough can it be? - Roland gasped.
As tough as a frozen ice on a frozen mountain I’d say.
I wanted to help them, but I had another one glaring at me fiercely.
- Thorns Wall! - Eve on the other hand was able to cast her spells from a distance.
- Grrrowl! - thorns caught the injured snow wolf.
- Thorn Spikes! - Eve waved her staff again.
Sharp spikes shot from vines and roots to pierce the entangled beast. However, it’s fur wasn’t only for decoration, nor simply to protect from cold. Not all of the spikes managed to pierce it’s body. But some did and that was enough to hurt it even more.
- Grrrrr... - even wounded, the beast struggled and even managed to partly break free from the thorns.
- Yaaa! - but Roland didn’t wait for snow wolf to get away.
- ‘Thrust!’ - he thrust his magic sword right at the creatures neck. The beast movements froze for a second and it’s body shivered from the shock. In a few more moments the snow wolf stopped struggling and slumped down.
- That’s one down. - he pulled out his sword.
- A little help here! - Sebastian was trying not to be eaten by one of the beasts.
- ‘Swoosh!’ - Rlani released the arrow to fend it off.
The creature used it’s tail again to jump back in order to avoid being pierced by the arrow.
- It’s their tails! - Rlani finally noticed. - They have two tails!
Two tails? Now I get it. And here I thought I was hallucinating.
Horrace and Inri were defending against another one. And I had the last one that I tried to deal with. The beast was fast, but I was able to defend against it’s swift strikes.
The real problem was the frostbite. My shield wasn’t the only thing that got frostbitten on impact. I managed to land few blows on the creature. But each time my sword touched the beast, it got frostbitten as well. And since it was just a regular sword, when it became frostbitten, my swing barely had any effect on the creature.
- Grrrr... - it gritted it’s teeth.
Highly resistant to ice I see. I shouldn’t be surprised, considering where we are. On the other hand, it has perfectly matched offense and defense. Whether someone hits it or the wolf hits it’s the prey, the frostbite will still affect the target. Having it as a pet would be difficult. Haha.
My shield was already half frozen. I could feel the cold handle even through my glove. I knew it won’t last long. It would be easier to dodge if not for the deep snow all around me.
- Quickly, don’t let it escape! - I heard Roland’s voice behind me.
At least the rest of them are handling themselves fine. Well, they aren’t Gold Ranks for nothing.
- ‘Growl!’ - the snow wolf lunged at me.
- ‘Bang!’ - I blocked it’s attack.
But my shield cracked at the impact spot.
- Heh. Here! You can have it if you like it so much! - ‘Voosh!’ - I threw my shield at the beast.
I thought I’ll hit it, but it used it’s twin tail to change direction instantly.
- ‘Thrust!’ - but my sword hit it’s target.
- Howl! - the snow wolf howled.
My weapon was completely covered in ice and crumbled into little small pieces after that. The wound wasn’t very deep and the beast hardly felt any pain.
- ‘Grrraaar!’ - the creature jumped at me.
- Not so fast. Summon Blood Halbert. - ‘Slash!’ - I swung as soon as my weapon materialised.
- Grrrruu! - as tough as the beast was, Blood Halbert was sharper.
The cut on the side of it’s face showed blood, which was frozen solid in an instant.
Hah. You won’t bleed out even if being cut. Impressive.
- Thorns! - Eve cast her spell.
But the snow wolf jumped away.
- Are you in trouble TC? - Eve rushed over.
How can I be in trouble with you around?
- Nah, I’m fine. - I smiled. - How are the others doing?
- They are doing fine. Horrace managed to injure another one. - she said.
- Ok. Lets deal with this one then. - I was ready to attack.
- Hooowl! - the snow wolf in front of me howled.
To my big surprise, instead of attacking me, the beast turned around and ran off. It’s twin tail left a frozen trail of dust behind it. I didn’t know what to think until I heard Meera’s voice.
- It’s running away! - she shouted.
- Not this one I’m afraid. Haa! - said Horrace.
I waited to see if the creature will turn around and come back at me. But it didn’t. Me and Eve went back to the others to check if they were ok.
- Master Horrace! - Inri exclaimed.
- Tsk... that damn frost wolf. - he could barely hold his weapon.
- Your hands! Take of your gloves, quickly! - Inri took his axe.
Both of his hands were frostbitten and were turning blue.
- I’m fine. Aaaargh! - his pain, when Inri touched his hand, told us otherwise.
- Do we have any potions? - she was really worried.
- Here. - I extended a Healing Potion.
Inri quickly opened it and poured on his hands.
- Arghmmm... - even being healed, the frost stung Horrace’s hands. - Aah, thank you.
- Is everyone else injured? - Roland asked.
Luckily, the others were fine.
- Huh? What is that? - Horrace was somewhat stunned.
- Where? - Roland was looking around.
- Not there. The thing TC is holding. - Horrace was pointing with his hand.
- Oh. - Roland finally realized. - That’s the weapon TC used to give us a good beating during the Tournament.
- But where did it come from? He clearly didn’t have it with him all this time. - Horrace was staring at it.
- I wish I knew. - Roland said.
- Unsummon. - I was getting uncomfortable with all the attention.
- Huh? Where did it go? - Horrace was surprised once again.
- Sigh... I wish I knew. - sighed Roland.
- Ahem... What were those things anyway? - asked Sebastian.
I wish I knew. Right?
But Roland didn’t say anything this time.
- They looked like wolves, but were so much bigger and far more stronger. - said Meera.
- The frostbite was the really scary part. It was enough just to touch them to be frozen. - added Roland.
- I’ve never seen a wolf to have two tails. - said Rlani. - They were using them to dodge my arrows.
- But their tails are so soft and fluffy. - Eve’s amazement bewildered everyone.
Of course. You will find something good no matter what. Wait! How do you know they are soft and fluffy?
I came closer to where she was. She was gently patting one of the dead wolves tail.
- Hmm... - I touched the beast’s tail as well. - You’re right. It’s amazingly soft.
Sigh... I’m glad the dead ones don’t give you frostbite. Eve...
- How about we leave their tails where they are and move out before more of them show up? - Roland suggested.
His suggestion was wise. Two out of four snow wolves ran away. Maybe we scared them off after slaying two of their kind. Or maybe they called for help and retreated to regroup. We had no time to waste.
- How about we turn towards those cliffs? - Meera pointed out. - The path might be too narrow for those twin tail wolves to follow us.
- Good point Meera. Lets head that direction. - said Roland.
The cliff side path wasn’t as narrow as we thought it would be, but those twin tail snow wolves were nowhere to be seen. The surroundings became more rocky and uneven, not less colder unfortunately. But we did had some cover from the wind, which was better than nothing.
- Look, is that a cave up there? - Rlani pointed out.
- Could be. It will get dark soon. We will need a place to spend the night. Lets take a look. - said Roland.
Luckily for us, the cave was empty. It’s not like someone would live here in this freezing cold with barely any food around. At least I wouldn’t.
- We need to start a fire if we are to camp here for the night. - said Roland.
Sebastian and Horrace went to get some wood. It wasn’t easy to start the fire, but once it was burning it provided so much needed warmth.
- Please share the food evenly and don’t waste it. We need to last for at least few more days. - Roland was thinking up front.
- Those nasty wolves gave us some hard time. To think those kind of monsters even exist. - wondered Sebastian.
- In this freezing cold they are like fish in the water. Even their magic aura will give you a frostbite. - said Horrace.
Those monsters surprised me as well. I haven’t encountered anything like them before.
- Brrr... so cold. - Eve put on her gloves after finishing her meal.
- Come sit closer to the fire. - I suggested.
- Mmm... so nice. - she extended her hands. - Oh, hihi. The fire tried to jump at me.
- Hah. That’s funny. - I laughed.
Oh wait. That is strange. Now that Eve mentioned it, how come the flames lean to one direction? There’s no wind outside.
- Hey, don’t you think the fire is acting weird? - I asked.
- What do you mean? - asked Roland.
- I get it. - said Rlani. - There’s no wind outside, but the flame is being pulled that way.
- And that means? - Horrace was puzzled.
- It means we’re not in a cave. There’s an exit on the other side. - Rlani explained.
Wow. She’s pretty knowledgable.
Everyone’s faces turned to the dark side of the cave. It was too dark to see further down. And nobody bothered to go check deeper inside. For all we knew, something or someone could’ve been lurking deep down in the cave.
- We might be lucky. Instead of climbing up the mountain through the snow, there might be an exit on the other side. Who knows, it might lead us directly to one of the Frost Giants settlements? - I tried to see the positive side of it.
- Right... Lets set up the watch order, shall we? - suggested Roland.
As the night was closing in, people lied down to get some rest. We didn’t have much wood, but tried to get enough to last us through the night.
I insisted to be the first one on watch. Main reason was that I saw others being tired already. The freezing cold, thin air and the fighting with those snow wolves drained our stamina and strength. It’s not that I wasn’t tired. But from the looks of it, others needed more rest than I did.
I stayed on watch a little longer, just to let Roland rest a little more. I knew he will extend his watch time anyway. That’s the type of the person he is.
I had respect for Roland. He took charge of the group and showed good leadership. People like him are rare.
- Don’t stay up too long. - I smirked before lying down.
- Hah. Goodnight mister nice guy. - he smiled.
I slept like a log and longer than the rest of the group. Even Eve woke up earlier than me.
- Good morning TC. - she smiled when I opened my eyes.
- Good morning beautiful. - I smiled back.
Her charming, cute face was all I needed for a good start of the day.
- If you slept any longer we might of shared your breakfast among ourselves. - Roland was in a good mood.
- No, you wouldn’t. - Eve didn’t think it was funny.
- Don’t worry Eve. Master Roland is joking. Of course we wouldn’t. - said Meera.
Hah. Even if you didn’t I’m not too worried. You’d be surprised what I have in my magic bag.
- Huh? - Roland was confused about my face expression.
- Glad you’re in a good mood. - I said.
- Good morning. - said Sebastian. - There’s a reason for that.
- And what reason is that? - I asked.
- I went forward and checked further down the cave sir TC. - said Rlani. - It does has a pathway further down. I believe it can lead us outside on the other side.
- Oh, nice. - I was folding my mat.
- Enjoy your breakfast and let us move out. Hopefully that pathway will lead us out through the mountain. - said Roland.
People were finishing with their breakfast already. I took a few bites and was ready to go.