43 First Blood
The girls positioned themselves near a swinging tail while the other guilds continued to fight against the beast. Lyria cast buffs on everyone. Once the tail was close enough to the ground, they all jumped and grabbed on to it. It wasn't long before the heads started growing.
Luna and Anna held on to the tail tightly while trying to keep Amelie in balance as she threw ice spells in different directions.
"Let's hope her mana lasts," said Lyria.
"Hey! This is fun!" Amelie laughed as she hurled ice bolts at the fast spawning snake heads.
"Look out!" Anna shouted as a snake head went after Lyria.
Before the snake head reached its target, it froze in place. Astrid did the long range stun move Shadow Slingshot just in time.
"That was a close one." Astrid sighed in relief.
They waited in agony for the moment when the tail was nearer to the other side.
"It's not getting nearer to the other side! Amelie's mana bank is starting to run out too. We won't last much longer," said Lyria.
"Let me take care of that!" Luna dug her sword into the tail, causing it to swing wildly.
Everyone held on tight.
"I'm getting dizzy!" Anna said as she felt her world spin.
"Let go on my mark..." Astrid watched the tail movements closely and determined the best time to let go. "Now!"
They all released their hold.
"Anna! Force field! Amelie! Wind spell!" Astrid shouted while they were all in midair.
Anna surrounded them with her shield as Amelie began casting the wind spell. As soon as they were near the ground, the spell took effect and smoothened their landing, preventing any fall damage.
"We survived!" Anna hugged the ground.
"Come on! We're almost at the area where the flags are. We need to get there before the other guilds do." Astrid ran ahead. The rest followed behind her.
With the other guilds still busy trying to get past Hydra, the next area was empty of rivals. Flimsy bridges connected the current island to the last one. A dark forest was waiting for them at the end of the bridges. The girls hurried past the bridges and into the darkness.
"It's pitch black," Anna said as she tried to navigate her way while holding on to Luna.
"Leave it to me!" Amelie fired a bolt at a random direction, which hit a tree branch. She picked it off the tree and used it as a torch.
"Wow, Amelie! You have night vision?" Astrid was impressed.
"It's Chris! And actually, I have no idea where I was aiming."
Luna was shocked. "You mean you could have hit me!?"
"But did you die? No, you didn't."
"Imagine clashing with the guilds in this area," said Lyria as they went through the forest.
"It'd definitely be a battle to remember," Astrid agreed. "I hope we don't bump into anyone."
It wasn't long before they made it out of the dark forest and into the area where the flags were. Luna rushed in excitedly to assure their victory.
"Got a flag! We did it!" Luna raised the flag up and jumped for joy.
"Oh wow. We really made it through this round!" Lyria still couldn't believe it.
"I think we can all agree that Amelie is the MVP of this round," said Astrid as she sat on a boulder.
Amelie blushed and became shy. After a few seconds, all the shyness was replaced with an annoyed face. "It's Chris! I'll make something delicious tonight to celebrate our victory."
Five minutes after Noctis Noir assured their victory in the current round, Black Rose finally arrived at the third island. The battle was fierce. Noctis Noir was lucky to have avoided the clash of numerous guilds.
Jasmine stopped by a tree to catch her breath. Her health was already below half. "We're finally here. I hope we're not too late."
"Let's split up and search for a flag," Garth suggested.
"Garth, over there!" Sed pointed at a flag just meters away.
Sed and Garth hurried to the unclaimed flag. Once they were a few meters away, Tank emerged from the bushes. All three of them stood still.
"Allies yesterday and opponents today, huh?" Tank drew his sword.
"May the best guild win," replied Garth. He threw back his cloak, revealing a golden rod hidden underneath.
A short glowing spear materialized in Tank's hand. Garth recognized it as the crusader skill, Holy Spike. In just a few seconds, Tank mercilessly hurled the spears at him. The mage used a wind spell to deflect the spears. From behind Tank, Sed did a close-up Ground Break on his back, doing considerable damage. That unanticipated move caused one spear to change trajectory, lightly grazing Garth's forehead.
"I accidentally let my guard down. How careless of me," Tank said as he moved away to put some space in between them.
Garth felt pain on his forehead where the spear hit him. When he touched it, he felt a sticky liquid. Upon examining his hand, he realized it was fresh blood. He stared in horror.
Tank was preparing to land a blow on Sed. Garth quickly ran to his second-in-command and pushed him out of the way. The guildmaster received the full force of Tank's attack, rendering him unconscious. Seeing that he did enough damage to cripple his opponents, Tank quickly snatched the flag on the ground and hurried away to avoid any further confrontation.
"Garth!" Sed panicked when he saw blood coming out of the guildmaster's mouth. "Garth!" When he saw that the mage wasn't waking up, he looked around desperately for anyone who could help.
"What happened?!" Jasmine appeared out of nowhere after deactivating Invisibility. "Why is he bleeding?"
"I don't know. Attacks aren't supposed to hurt us physically. But why?" Sed stared at Garth in an attempt to search for an answer. Unfortunately, he found none.
Sphinx deactivated his Invisibility skill and moved beside Garth. He said nothing, but he knew very well that the hackers had something to do with it. Aries was designed not to put players under harmful and dangerous conditions.
"What do we do?" Jasmine asked.
"Let's win this." Sed was determined.
"But what about Garth? We can't just leave him like this! He could be critically wounded!" Jasmine raised her voice out of panic.
"Let's split the team. I'm suspecting foul play. We can't just let those cheaters win!" Sed was determined to avenge his guildmaster.
She nodded. "You're right. Even if we're at a disadvantage, we should still do what we can to win."
"Jasmine, stay here with Garth. Yaya should come soon. Sphinx and I will try and get a hold of a flag. Once we do, we'll come back."
"Understood. Be careful."
"We will. You guys be careful too. We don't know what we're dealing with."