The beast continued to eye them patiently. It had been a few minutes since it finally stopped futilely struggling and just sat and waited. Seeing that they were given at least a brief moment of relief, the pair slumps to the ground with deep heaving breath. The pain which Naxio had been ignoring until now came rushing to the forefront. Red blinded his left eye as blood from a cut on his forehead dripped down.
"I need to heal you, lie down Naxio Yi."
Naxio tries to lie down but then jolts onto his side with a loud hiss.
"What?! What's wrong?!"
Moushira acts quickly, pulling Naxio's robes to reveal his back only to let out a string of curses. His back has long lashing-like wounds, most likely from when he hit the tree before! His inner robes stuck to his back wet with his blood.
"Okay turn over then, I need to heal this first before it festers."
He turns and Moushira immediately starts to work. Though she may not come from the Kai-Shin Clan and inherent their healing prowess, she does her best. Forcing her Yang arcane to follow the wounds on Naxio's back, she manages to close the wounds. However, the bite of pain is nothing she can cure.
"Okay, you should be okay to turn now."
He turns over slowly, it hurts but not as much as before. Once again she pulls forth her Yang and begins once again healing. It takes a while but she soon slumps back exhausted but Naxio is at least healed enough to move without too much pain.
"It's no problem! Although now we need to address our earlier issue."
They both turn to the snake who has long since calmed down and is only growling lightly. It eyes watching the two like a hawk. However, it was blocking their only exit and there is no telling how much time they have left now.
"Hmm, maybe we should just wait to be rescued? Surely someone will come?"
Naxio asks then looks to Moushira who is frowning. Sure they would fail but at least they would be alive. She doesn't respond, however.
"Yea-yeah I'm sure my cousins will get someone to come to find us!"
"...I don't think so."
Naxio's eyebrows draw up in confusion. While it was true his cousins torment him, he still highly doubts they would leave him for dead!
"I'm sorry Naxio, I can't wait."
Moushira didn't wait, she quickly summons her weapon once again. Catgut wires that curl around the open air as if alive, her Yang coursing through them. She then charges at the beast.
The beast was waiting for one of them to get close, he snaps out in an instant. Moushira quickly dodges and continues her assault. The beast proves that even with his limited movement, he is still a lethal opponent. The battle rages on.
Naxio tries his best to follow along but was soon lost. Moushira is almost at a level close to Li-Ren, that much he can say for certain! Her skill and speed were truly something to marvel given her younger age. However as the battle went on, it was clear, this beast was still too much.
Without warning, the beast lashes out, and he loosens himself ever so slightly. The extra range is just enough to catch Moushira off guard and she is slammed into the back cavern wall. The beast continues to struggle to wiggle himself through again, however no avail. But he does cause the cavern to shake with his force.
Naxio races over to her fallen form. She isn't unconscious however is it clear that blow shook her.
"Damn beast is stronger than I expected."
"I told you already that we should just wait to be rescued!"
The look she through him is cutting and he is taken back.
"...I cannot wait, Naxio Yi. I told you this."
"You can't wait to be rescued? Bu-"
"No, to become a Daemon Hunter!"
With that admission, Naxio is confused as he looks to her. Sure she would lose out on this time, but there is always next year?
"What do you mean?"
She looks at him for a beat as if weighing her options before telling a great secret. She then lets out a sigh and speaks.
"I am low-blood born, Naxio Yi. My mother is not from the clan, she is merely a servant there."
Her words are spat out in a bitter tone, her eyes averted. Naxio's eyes widen at her statement. Low-blood born children, children born outside of wedlock with a member of a clan, aren't unheard of. What is unusual is that most Low-blood born aren't able to manipulate Yang arcane and certainly aren't given the opportunity to bare clan colors. Naxio understands all at once how important this is to her.
"..T-this is my only chance!"
Tears fall from her eyes only for a moment before being wipes away. Moushira's face hardens once again in determination.
"I can't give up!"
Naxio looks to his friend once again in awe at her. She is afraid, that is plain to see but she is determined.
Moushira looks back at Naxio, and her eyes widen a bit in shock. Once again Naxio has surprised her.
"I'll help you!"
"Naxio are you sure?"
"Yes! Though my arcane and binding skill is weak, I can still be of some use!"
Surely Naxio has no choice in the matter to help, but still the fact that he is willing to help brings her great relief. Her signature smile returns and she nods to him.
"Okay...but how will we beat that thing?"
The pair turns back to the waiting beast. The snake is glaring at them from it's stuck position, eyes trained on the pair for it. Its skin has numerous wounds both from when Li-Ren fought it and also Moushira but they are shallow given its tough scaled exterior.
"I don't know, blunt force doesn't seem to be the way. Its skin is extremely tough."
"Hmm, I'm still surprised a Daemon would venture so close to the compound?"
That was a good observation. To be fair however the mountain and the surrounding forest have been known to have a Daemon or two but usually they were weaker creatures. Nothing like the beast in front of them that could easily take on at least 10 to 15 Daemon Hunters on its own. So why has this beast come so close?
"M-maybe it was passing through?"
"Hmm maybe? But the risk seems too high?"
The beast seemed to realize they were talking about it and let a hiss, its long tongue lashing out.
"Well, either way, we need to think of something.."
Moushira then summons her weapon again and Naxio follows her with Falan-shi. The pair try all that they can to kill the beast. However, it is clear even with their combined power, this beast is beyond them. It doesn't take long for their battle to fizzle down.
Back on the ground, both Naxio and Moushira are exhausted. Naxio's finger shakes with pain, his hands sore from playing. He could barely even hold a small tether of Yang given how much he has already strained for. Moushira is in a similar state, her Catgut wires have lost their lethal edge, sitting limply on the ground before her. She could barely move a finger to push the scraps of Yang left in her body. Fortunately, however, the beast also looks like he has finally slowed down even just a bit.
Its head was slightly slumped down as it was taking in larger than normal breaths.
".. Huff... I think... we may.. have a chan...ce."
Moushira gasps that out, her body shaking like a leaf as she tries to stand but ultimately falls back.
"Naxio Yi... we have to try...one more.. time!"
Getting no response from the boy next to her gives her pause before she turns to him. A gasp escapes her lips before she can stop it.
The full-back of Naxio was soaked with blood, it would appear the wound on his back was reopened.
Moushira starts to inch over as she watches the boy start to tilt, almost about to fall to the ground in a heap.
"Naxio Yi! Naxio Yi!"
Her desperate calls are only answered with gurgles and a weak mumble. He clearly is in the process of losing consciousness fast and she has no means or way of healing him. She manages to reach him before he completely slumps over, and what little Yang she has is forced into him. Even at the burning sensation of the drain, she pushes past that.
"Naxio Yi, please you can't go to sleep! Wake up please!"
Her voice cracks at the end of her plea, fresh tears fall from her eyes to Naxio's face. He weakly opens his eyes but only for a second. His mouth is moving but no words are coming out.
The beast who had been quiet suddenly perks up and begins to struggle once more. The cave shakes around them, dislodging loose stones and dust. Moushira tries her best to protect Naxio but the dust does make her let out a dry cough.
It's still stuck! We just need to recover our Yang and we should be able to win!
The thought was clear in Moushira's mind, hope though small was strong. So long as the beast was stuck, they still had a chance!
The beast continued to struggle however, this time determined for freedom. Lashing its body against the opening over and over again until finally, the stones beneath it gave free. It falls to the floor of the cavern area with a boom, denting the floor with the force of its body.
The snake was now free, and it raises its head to the pair which has been battling with it for so long.
We're going to die...
The thought passes through Mourshira's mind so quickly as she stares up at the beast. It was quick and in a whisper and after first, she was in shock. And then in a whirlwind that stray thought became a mantra, screaming in her head.
We're going to die. We're going to die. We're going to die. We're going to die
Over and over again as she watched the beat loom closer and closer. That single thought echoed through her mind, the cold hand of fear gripping her heart tight. As she watches the beast's mouth open and grows closer, that thought screams once again.
WE'RE GOING TO DI-
A single note echoes through the cave and the world crawls to a stop. Nothing moves in this space, not the air or even the falling rocks.
Moushira can only watch in awe as a figure seemingly out of nowhere descends before her. A few more strings are pulled, more notes spring to life. The melody that plays is solemn yet powerful, it echoes so loudly that Moushira's ears are ringing. A flash of purple waves out at the beast who is still frozen in time. Its eyes bulge out wildly and its body twitches like a leaf in a rainstorm.
The time which felt like it had been frozen for minutes, hours even but in truth was only for a few moments resumes at once. The body of the beast falls limp to the side with a thud, its eyes rolled back so just the white is showing. Black blood pools from its mouth, staining the floor before it.
The beast was dead.
Moushira's eyes drag up from the beast to the person who killed it. The person turns to them and in an instant, Moushira recognizes them.
The mask of Lilac Fox, Yulen Li shines with a soft purple glow. Her legendary Yamatogoto, Kojoku floats before her, strumming gently like a loyal soldier ready to defend its master.
"...Are you both alright?"
Her voice is barely above a whisper but crystal clear all the same. In a way, her voice and tone are similar to her playing, somber yet strong.
"Y-yes, Night Hunter Yulen Li!"
Moushira's response is shaky, still shell-shocked in awe from the display of power.
"Good, it's time to return."
And as if on cue, the sounds of drums echo out. As they finally exited the cave, a wave of sadness and disappointment hits Moushira. The moon was high in the sky, it would seem they missed the deadline.
"I'll bring you both back."
Moushira adjusts Naxio on her back and nods meekly. The drums continued to sound as they walked. When they finally reached back to the compound, Naxio's cousins were waiting eagerly to take him. Gone were the cruel looks and sneer comments as they all crowded him even as some of the Medical Hunters tried to push them out of the way.
The Dawn of the Hunt is over, and they have both failed.