On a nearby rise to the side of the road, Isaac and his archers had appeared, each one bending their bows and taking aim at the mage slaves. As the arrows sped through the air, the mages were forced to split their attention, raising barriers to defend themselves from the barrage whilst maintaining their own offensive.
Some of the mages turned their attention to disrupting Isaac and his hunting party, flinging spells at them that seared the air. But at this range, it was hard for them to be accurate and deadly enough. The archers were able to scramble out of the danger zone in time that they were able to avoid injury, but the mages succeeded in scattering the archers which was their aim.
All this time, Tiny continued to weave his way through danger. He was doing remarkably well, enough that I was convinced we were going to get into the clear.
Then the lightning started falling…
Damn Wizard Lizard! This may be a bit unreasonable, but I wish you'd let me kill off your servants without exacting vengeance!
With my mana sense flipped on, I could tell that the great working was finished now. Garralosh had topped off her core and was heading this way, and the Kaarmodo had enough free attention to weave together another lightning storm. Which is something we did not need!
[I'm jumping off, Tiny!] I shouted and leapt clear of the big ape the moment I saw a chance.
Crinis was frantically waddling through the grass to the side of the road, her basketball sized body supported on her small, stubby permanent tentacles. It would have been adorable in a situation that less fraught with mortal peril.
[Crinis, reach out to me!] I bellowed.
As she wiggled and wobbled her way forward, Crinis extended a long limb from her main body out towards me.
I activated the skill and my stamina infused my body, sending me hurtling forward with vital energy. Bursts of flame erupted around me, singeing my carapace as lightning began to rain down from above.
I focused my sub-brains to their limits, using them to analyse the information from my antennae, the heat I sensed from the fire and the blurred lines of the future that were whispered to me through my antennae. By juking left and right I did everything I could to throw off the aim of my tormentors as I made my way to Crinis.
[Grab hold!] I yelled.
My charge took me close enough that Crinis was able to latch hold of my carapace and begin to haul herself toward me.
[Don't let go, Crinis!]
[I never will, Master!]
That … didn't sound right. Never mind it now, we need to get the hell out of here! Once again, time to dash!
The rolling thunder sounded more like an explosion to me as the strikes landed just metres away. Tiny leapt close and was struck multiple times, shrugging it off as best he could as he tanked the lightning magic for me.
I could see Isaac on the hill, hopping from one foot to the other and shouting at me. I can't understand, you moron! I'm not about to create a mind bridge in the middle of this fiasco! His fellow archers are still dodging the odd fireball and unleashing arrows when they can. It'd be nice if their leader would bother to help out.
With every second that passed we put another metre between the horde, the mages and us and it began to tell, becoming easier to dodge and avoid the spells coming our way, with the obvious exception of the lightning strikes from above.
With my mana sense on, I kept tabs on the roiling mana overhead. It really is impressive how much mana there is packed into that spell. All of that energy just for little old me? The Kaarmodo must be more than slightly attached to the slave attendants. I'd feel bad for the Lizard Wizard if they weren't marching a giant monster along with a giant army towards my home.
No mercy for invaders!
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But for now, run to the hills!
Run for your lives!
The dark cloud that hung low overhead began to spark and ripple with electricity. The lightning bolts ceased for a beat and I could see in my mana sense that the power in the spell was condensing towards a central point.
Deep within the cloud a light began to glow. It grew brighter by the second until it became a near blinding radiance that pierced my eyes. Something big is coming! I'm not a big fan of this!
With a plop, Crinis hauled herself onto my back after reeling herself in using the tentacle she'd stuck to me and now she clung on for dear life as I sprinted, my legs a blur to my eyes as I covered the ground at high speed.
[Watch out above Tiny! Get clear of me!]
The bat-faced ape shook his head and growled angrily but was forced to obey my direct command and leapt to one side, putting some distance between us. Overhead, the cloud shrank in on itself as the remaining mana within concentrated down to a single point.
Isaac had collected himself, I could see him now with a spear in hand. As a javelin thrower might, he ran forward and with a mighty roar launched the spear into a high arc that seemed to be heading right towards me.
Wait a sec, it IS heading right toward me! What the heck!
At the last second I threw myself to one side, my legs tripping over each other and I fell towards the ground as several things happened at once.
The spear punched into the ground right where I'd been running with a reverberating thud, the metal hafted weapon pushed deep into the ground as the momentum pushed the butt forward until the weapon stood vertically.
Then the lightning came.
Like a lance from the heavens, it fell. My sight became filled with light in an instant and, not for the first time, I wished I had eyelids. This is going to give me some serious retina burn! The impact pierced the ground and sent a shower of earth into the air. So fierce was the force, it rippled through the air and smashed into me as I fell, burning me and sending me tumbling end over end, squashing Crinis into my back.
I've been cooked! Also, I can't see!
Not only that, my ears are ringing as if I were a bell that was struck! What the hell was that?! Am I alive? It's all white!?
[Are you alright, Crinis?]
[I… I think so!]
Ok, that's good.
[Any chance you can let me know which way is forward?]
And we were off once more! Standing still is death! Using her ability to sense mana, Crinis pointed us away from the horde and we ran into the distance.