42 Aerial Battle
The Noctis Noir girls ran towards the griffons lined up. Thanks to Amelie's hunger and tolerance for strange food, they managed to overtake half of the participants.
Lyria took a deep breath. "I've done aerial battles on a dragon in the fantasy game SkyEdge, but I was never really good at driving them!"
"I've had enough of riding flying creatures," said Luna as she remembered the wyvern they had to fight before. "I don't really want to have to ride one again."
Astrid paused to think. "In that case, Luna can ride with Amelie."
Luna was a bit worried. "Amelie, can you really drive this?"
"It's Chris! And yes, I'm sure I can drive this majestic creature," Amelie said confidently.
Luna still wasn't convinced. "Why do I have a bad feeling about this?"
"Have you no faith in my driving skills!?"
"I think I'll take a chance and just ride my own griffon."
Astrid mounted a griffon. She smiled as she felt the excitement of what was to come. "Ladies, prepare for an aerial battle. Shoot down any enemy you see."
"Oh yeah!" Amelie eagerly jumped on the back of a griffon and took off first.
"Amelie! Wait!" Luna followed.
Amelie's erratic movements made it difficult for their enemies to anticipate her attacks. Like a crazy drunk, she slammed into enemy griffons, sending her opponents falling to their deaths. At one point, she even jumped off her own griffon to tackle an enemy and steal his mount. All victims were caught off-guard because it was Amelie. Everyone was always caught off-guard whenever Amelie fought in the battlefield.
"Look at Amelie go!" Luna was both amazed and proud that her friend was on a killing spree.
Amelie stopped in front of Luna and did a cool hair flip. "See? I told you I can ride this beautiful creature."
Astrid failed to see a stray bolt from one of the enemy guilds. It made a direct hit with enough force to push her off her griffon. Before she fell to her doom, she managed to grab hold of one of the griffon's legs. She cursed as she dangled in midair, vulnerable to attacks.
"Astrid!" Lyria was the first to notice.
"Lyria, go! We'll cover you," Anna shouted, readying her lute.
Lyria made a quick turn and moved near Astrid, trying to position the griffon under the guildmaster so she could fall safely on its back. However, arrows aimed at her made it hard for her to stay in position. Astrid could also barely dodge in her current situation.
As the archer attacking them readied her next shot, she was mercilessly showered with bolts and eventually kicked off her griffon by Amelie. After making certain of her victory, Amelie flew off to find another victim.
Jasmine sighed in admiration as she observed Amelie's prowess in the art of war. "Isn't Chris amazing? He's such a genius when it comes to aerial battles."
Sed rolled his eyes. "Don't get too distracted, Jasmine."
"I know, I know. Sheesh. I'm just picking up useful strategies." Jasmine flew far away from Sed and moved closer to Yaya.
The wind blew hard. Astrid's arm was beginning to ache from holding on tightly. With no more long range attacks coming their way, Lyria finally positioned herself under Astrid.
"Astrid, jump! I'll catch you," said Lyria.
Astrid let go of the griffon's leg and fell right on the back of Lyria's griffon. The priestess managed to grab hold of her to keep her from slipping off.
"Thanks. Let's hurry and land on the next island. I think we did enough damage here."
Lyria flew them to the second floating island where they dismounted. Right after landing, the rest of the girls also arrived. The griffons vanished immediately after dismounting.
The second island had the same terrain as the previous one. There was a wide lake up ahead covering both ends of the island. There was no way of getting to the other side without passing through the lake.
"Is everyone here?" Astrid asked when the Noctis Noir members regrouped.
"Made it in one piece!" Luna cried tears of joy.
Suddenly, the ground shook violently.
"Did I speak too soon!?" Luna exclaimed in horror.
"What is that?" Anna asked as a gigantic scaled serpentine creature with four snake heads emerged from the lake.
"It looks like a Hydra. According to myth, if you cut off one of its heads, another one grows. In some versions, extra heads grow," Lyria explained.
Astrid didn't like the sound of it. "I just hope they based it off the version where it doesn't grow extra heads."
The other guilds ran in to fight the large creature. They saw several players being slaughtered immediately in just a few hits.
"Hey, this beast is overpowered. Do we even stand a chance?" Luna was beginning to feel uneasy.
"Let's hit it with everything we have!" Amelie was about to rush in, but Astrid blocked her.
"Wait. Let's observe its movements first and come up with a strategy," Astrid suggested.
"Any ideas?" Luna asked.
Some players attempted to get past the monster, but new heads grew to block their path and attack them. A few didn't survive. The rest escaped with just barely any health left.
The sight of it left Lyria speechless for a moment. "Oh wow. This one grows new heads even without one being cut? Simply wonderful."
Luna's eyes were on the tanks that were holding off the heads. Behind them were mages casting spells like crazy. Arrows also rained from up above.
Amelie sighed. "If only we can just fly over it."
Amelie's words gave Astrid an idea.
"We're overtaking the beast," said Astrid. "I don't think we're meant to kill it. It doesn't even have a health bar. Besides, the more we spend time here, the more we'll be delayed."
"So how do we get past it?" Lyria asked. "It seems to have blocked off all paths."
"Let's ride its tail!" Amelie suggested.
"What?" Luna thought Amelie's idea was crazy.
"We grab on to its tail and let it swing us around. When it swings towards the other side, we let go. Ride with the wind. Fly."
Astrid thought about it. "It's possible, but also dangerous."
"With Amelie's wind spell, Anna's force field, and Lyria's protection buffs, we might be able to survive the fall and get far ahead," said Anna. "I say it's worth a try."
"What about the heads that grow?" Lyria was worried.
Astrid paused to think. "We need a way to stop them somehow. How about Amelie's ice spells? It can temporarily freeze the heads and buy us time."
Luna placed a hand on Amelie's shoulder. "We leave everything to you, Amelie."
"Wait! I can't take this pressure!" Amelie slapped her panic away and did a cool hair flip. "I mean... leave it to me!"
Astrid still had her doubts, but it didn't seem like such a bad idea. "Alright. Let's go."