The forest seems to change with the start of the afternoon sky. Naxio's glance nervously from shadow to shadow. He swore that the shadows felt like they were moving.
"L-Li-Ren, I don't like this place.."
Aijah's voice was soft and scared, her hands gripping the back of Naxio robes tight and her face digging a bit into his back. Li-Ren doesn't speak however her eyes were sharp and scanning around them as they walked. She knew as well something was different.
"...We need to get through here, this is the thickest point and then we will be before the steps which lead up to the compound."
The Mizune group continues. However, as they did, the forest which was once quiet began to rumble in noise. Noises that weren't human or normal by far. Li-Ren raised her hand out to stop them and waits.
And so they listen. The sounds were low but echoed around them. Then without warning, they stopped.
All remained deadly silent.
The scream rips through the forest and they all turn around but then another scream and then another and so on. Soon the forest is a melody of painfully angst screams.
Li-Ren's yell doesn't fall on deaf ears. They all burst in a run, Aijah's grip on Naxio's back now is almost bordering on painfully. She is scared and by the sounds around her, her fear is reasonable. The forest now was passing by in a blur, each burst brings them closer and closer to the compound. However, suddenly Li-Ren stops.
"Wh-why have we stopped? Li-Re-"
Her words are quick and hush, her eyes narrowed in front of them. Her body was coiled tight, clearly ready for a fight. Naxio and his cousin have also turned their attention forwards. The forest is suddenly silent once again. Nothing but the sounds of leaves falling around them. However, Li-Ren's posture never untightens.
For a few painstaking moments, nothing happens.
And then... they all hear it.
A hissing sound echoed through the forest, whatever it was, was close by and growing closer. Li-Ren's hand raises and in a quick flash of purple light, her Komabue (Flute) appears. The flute is elegant in form, dark-colored with red strings hanging from it. Su-Lin follows her example and summons her instrument as well, a Kokyū (Japanese Violin). Both were poised in anticipation for whatever was coming however nothing could have prepared them for what did come out.
It was a beast unlike any they have ever seen back home. A snake whose head could easily reach the top of the dense forest they were in. Its eyes were a lidless gleaming red, the body dark as the night. As it slid closer, fear to fester deep within the Mizune clan group, this was not a beast they could fight.
"...Naxio, get Su-Lin and Aijah out of here now."
Everyone turns to Li-Ren in shock.
"W-what are you saying Li-Ren!? We can't leave you!"
"Don't argue with me Su-Lin! This isn't something any of us can fight. Just move!"
With that Li-Ren attacks first. The sound of her flute lashes out in a deep purple wave, slashing against the beast causing it to let out a cry. Li-Ren then charges forward, fully ready to fight to her final breath.
Naxio quickly grabs Su-Lin before she goes running after Li-Ren.
"Let go of me!!"
"Su-Lin please, we need to move. We won't be of any help to Li-Ren, we all know she's the strongest of us!"
His words fell on deaf ears as Su-lin continued to struggle and lash out. Naxio struggles to pull her along, especially with Aijah still on his back.
The battle between the beast and Li-Ren was brutal. Every attack she threw had the precision of a knife. The beast as if knowing she was a formidable opponent lashes back with lethal intent. Back and forth they danced, her notes rang loud and violent. Naxio could only catch glances as he ran but for certain he knew why Li-Ren was nominated to become a Daemon Hunter. There was no doubt in Naxio's mind that she could easily achieve becoming a Night Hunter.
The beast and Li-Ren break briefly from their mounting battle. The beast didn't appear winded but there were long gashes from his scales. Its growl was a low rumble that echoed in her ears. Li-Ren suffered only small cuts and bruises but she was growing weaker. As she dodges another attack, she looks back to where she last saw her cousins and curses. They had yet to get far enough away.
She has to give them more time!
"Li-Ren look out!"
Her gaze snaps back forward but ultimately too late to dodge the large tail crashing down on her. It swatted her from the air like a fly and down she fell, slamming to the ground with a bounce. A spurt of blood leaves her lips in a dry heave.
Naxio knew then and there, it was either help or lose everything. He quickly puts Aijah down and forms Falan-shi. He quickly jumps in and strums an attack spell. It was quick and ultimately weak, his abilities were nothing close to the rest of his family. But it was enough.
The beast turns its attention on Naxio.
"Su-Lin, get Li-Ren and Aijah out of here!!"
Su-Lin appears frozen in shock, fresh tears forming in her eyes. Whether it is due to fear or stress, he wasn't certain but he needed her to snap out of it.
The beast strikes again, Naxio barely dodges, however, he is still knocked back by the force. He tumbled onto the ground with a hard thud, grass and dirt smear his face and clothing. He quickly turns and spins, narrowly dodging the creature's mouth bearing down at him. He looks again at Su-lin.
She snapped out of her trance and grabs Aijah tight, she flinches in pain but says nothing. Su-Lin then goes to Li-Ren who was still conscious even after such a hard throw. However, it was clear she was in no condition to fight. But the determined look in her eyes said otherwise.
"Naxio Yi! What the hell do you think you are doing?!"
Li-Ren looks to join the battle, even if it is more than obvious the damage she already took.
Li-Ren's eyes were burning, blood drips from the many small wounds on her face.
The beast attacks once again, however, this time Naxio didn't fully get out of the way in time. The very tip of the tail flicks again his shoulder causing his dodge to spiral out of control. His back slams hard into a tree in the distance. The beast was now in between Naxio and his cousins, clearly judging who to go after. Naxio doesn't move for a few seconds which makes the beast turned its head to the three others who dare cross its path. Its eyes gleaming in delight at the prospects of a good meal.
A loud single strum suddenly blasts the beast from behind.
It turned with a loud screeching hiss. Naxio, though beaten and bloody, was standing. Falan-shi humming still from the recent attack.
Su-Lin, even against Li-Ren protests, grabs her and helps her stand. She then drags both, with mild difficulty away. As he watches Aijah's tear stricken face gets smaller and smaller, a stray thought passes his mind.
Why am I doing this?
The thought was quick but haunted him. Naxio thought back to everything his cousin has done. Cold words and humiliation were almost a daily thing and yet here he was risking his life for them.
The beast again strikes. Its mouth opens wide in preparation to eat Naxio whole. He's tired and his body aches, he knows he won't be able to dodge this time.
..At least I can finally see mother...
His eyes start to close as he accepts his fate. But then suddenly, a high-pitched whistle goes through the air. Thin wires slice through the air at the beast, making a long cut down its side. Inky black blood paints the forest floor. The beast let out a loud screech, it is injured but certainly not dead.
Before Naxio, a familiar figure descends.
She looks back at him with a smile.
She then grabs his arm and pulls. The pair run away while the beast recoils away in pain. They don't get far away but fortunately, there is a cave that they escape into. Regrettably, though, the beast follows soon after. After twists and turns in the cave, they soon enter an open area.
And what even greater luck the beast is suddenly stuck, only his head and a bit of his neck could move around freely. And try and try as it might, it could not free itself from the opening. They were trapped with this beast, doomed to wait to be rescued. If they could that is.