༺ Play Ball (2) ༻
“Mr. Assistant, run away with Odette, I’ll try to hold it off here.”
Odile stepped forward, covering for Siwoo and Odette.
She wasn’t being arrogant or trying to brag.
After all, she was far more aware about the danger the Homunculus posed than Siwoo ever was.
The giant cat descended leisurely from the tree.
The sight of the monster riding a wooden pole in a relaxed manner while blinking its three large eyes felt otherworldly as it clearly transcended the laws of physics.
The sight of it landing on the ground in a weightless motion felt incredibly surreal. It completely erased all sense of reality from Siwoo.
“Why are you dawdling here? I told you to run!”
Even under the intense pressure of Odile’s anxious yell, Siwoo remained calm as he tried to assess the situation.
Not only that, he even gave Odette some instructions.
“Ms. Odette, is your music box working?”
Odette, who had been fidgeting nervously while gripping the hem of her skirt quickly showed him her music box.
Immediately after that, while casting a worried glance in his direction, Odette spoke.
“Mr. Assistant…you should run away. I can’t leave my sister behind!”
“No! Odette, you need to call for help while I’m holding this thing off!”
“I-I’ll do it right now!”
As expected, Odette was slower than Odile in assessing the current situation.
Either it was because she had just woken up or because she wasn’t as courageous. Nevertheless, she followed Odile’s instruction and began chanting a spell.
If there was one fortunate thing in this situation, it was the fact that the Homunculus wasn’t attacking them. Instead, it stayed still while observing them.
With curious eyes, it scanned its surroundings, observing the three with great attention.
Under its vigilant gaze, Odette’s magic came into full bloom.
A massive string of symbols shot up into the sky.
It was a spell one level higher than Skyboard, the spell that Siwoo once used.
The spell pierced through the dense foliage of the Latifundium as it lit up the sky, sending out an urgent rescue signal.
“It’s done, Sis!”
“Great! Let’s go! …Ugh!”
The monstrous cat started to move as soon as Odette casted the spell, probably in response to the sudden surge of magic.
Its tail swung through the air like a sickle.
The movement was so quick that it couldn’t be seen with the naked eyes.
It was as if all its previous swings were a joke.
The protective barrier that Odile had previously set up was torn apart like a piece of paper.
Her ‘Song of Rest’ was easily crushed just like that.
Odile’s eyes widened in shock as she gazed at the scattered debris caused by the shattering magic circle.
“I-It destroyed the barrier in one swing?!”
The sight of her barrier that was capable of withstanding tank rounds with ease being torn apart so effortlessly made Odile left speechless.
Meanwhile, Siwoo had been looking at the sky.
It was because there was something in there.
Odette’s rescue signal.
The strings of symbols, gradually becoming larger as they rose into the sky, collided with a dense black shadow that covered the Latifundium.
Siwoo heard the sound of shattering glass.
The moment the purple clad string of characters made contact with the shadow, the magic was disrupted by the black shadow that acted as if it was suddenly sprung to life.
Those characters shattered into thousand pieces, falling down on Siwoo’s heads.
Odette watched in despair as her last hope was shattered.
The rescue signal had failed.
Meanwhile, Odile’s barrier was sliced through by the monster’s tail.
None of their attacks seemed to work against the enemy.
Their previously calm daily life had been abruptly disrupted as it took on a new direction.
It was late, but the three of them felt a sense of impending catastrophe.
As the word passed through their minds, they felt like it was some kind of cruel joke.
At that moment, Siwoo’s attention was drawn to the mana river stream behind the Homunculus, the Latifundium’s mana supply.
“Ms. Odette, please protect Ms. Odile. I’m going to create a smokescreen.”
While everyone else was trembling in fear, Siwoo took action.
He found it strange.
Despite the imminent threat of death, his mind was clear, allowing him to think and react quickly.
A surge of adrenaline coursed through his veins, bolstering the very legs that should have trembled in terror.
Then, he ran.
He began to dash toward the monster like an arrow shot from a bow.
He brushed off Odette’s urgent calling.
“What are you doing?!”
He even went past Odile, who was keeping the Homunculus occupied and ran toward the monster.
Seeing one of its prey leaping toward itself caught the Homunculus off guard. It turned his head abruptly at an angle.
Even in this situation, in the middle of his sprint, Siwoo was still analyzing the Homunculus.
He had seen its attack pattern up to this point.
First, the shadow spear that it used to attack the research facility.
It took around five seconds for the monster to gather the shadow before it shot it.
The maximum number of spears that it could shoot at once was three.
But, the intervals between each attack was quite long.
However, it was clear from the monster’s leisurely attitude that this wasn’t the extent of its strength.
The speed of the shadow spears was so quick, it was impossible to track them with naked eyes. Not to mention that it was powerful enough to break gigantic trees with dozens of meters circumferences.
It was clear that there was no way Siwoo could handle it even if he were to use all the mana he had.
Second, its tail.
It was impossible to gauge its attack range due to the sickle at the end of its tail since it used the sickle as if it was a chained sickle.
At first, its power didn’t seem to be that powerful, but the fact that it quickly shattered Odile’s barrier demonstrated that if the tail were to hit someone’s bare body, it would undoubtedly shatter it to pieces.
Finally, the unidentified black shadow.
It was clear that it wasn’t something like a hardened shadow.
At one point, the shadow covered the air like smog and disrupted Odette’s spell.
Because of its existence, he assumed that they were cut off from the outside world.
The Latifundium had become a hunting ground for the monster.
As Siwoo continued to charge forward, the distance between him and the Homunculus had shrunk to less than 20 meters.
Then, overshadowing Siwoo’s vigor, it started to move.
Its tail writhed in the air with a grotesque cry as it began to move like a snake targeting its prey.
Siwoo calmly calculated the time and extended his arm into the air.
The mana in Latifundium was richer than anywhere else in Gehenna.
For that reason, a certain special move became possible to use here.
But it could only be used once.
That was why the timing to use it was important.
Its tail, aiming at Siwoo, was swung with a ferocious sound.
At that moment, Siwoo leapt his body diagonally, like a spring that was bent to its limit.
The tail, which had barely missed SIwoo’s toes, appeared to move very slowly as it scraped the surface of the ground.
Siwoo jumped over the over three meters tall monster. He was able to do this not because he somehow gained a superhuman strength at the death’s door.
‘Water Lizard’s Stride,’ the technique that Odile showed him the day before they left.
It was a technique that boosted the user’s mobility by focusing magic power on the soles of their feet. After gathering mana to its limit, the user could make a single leap upwards.
Siwoo leapt three meters high using his bare body.
The wind brushed past his ears.
Eventually, the fear of having nothing under his feet gave birth to a greater sense of anxiety.
Next, the fear of falling took over.
As he watched the ground getting closer in real time, Siwoo braced himself for the upcoming impact.
He managed to jump more than 20 meters forward in one breath and landed at the riverbank of the mana river.
Because everything transpired quickly, Siwoo was unable to use any mana to soften his landing. As a result, he bounced off the ground like a cork. He felt a sharp pain in his ankles. It felt like they were about to break.
By descending in an arc, he managed to escape death by a hair’s breadth. If he had fallen straight down, he would either die from the fall, or be rendered unconscious before the monster’s claw fell upon him.
The monster’s sluggish and frightening gaze, soon discovered its vanished prey.,
With shadows converging around it to form spears of shadow, the cat sought to punish the elusive prey who managed to leap over its head.
While suppressing his pain, Siwoo stretched his arms out toward the river in front of his eyes.
He ignored the throbbing pain in his limbs.
With his body staggering, SIwoo ran over the water while dipping his hand before shouting.
This was why he risked his life to reach the river.
The mana that he absorbed into his fingertips was comparable to the high-level mana water that he previously used in his magic research.
And one continuity.
Just before the shadow spear could pierce through Siwoo to turn him into a skewered kebab.
The river swelled up.
The mana that had been flowing down the river suddenly convulsed, morphing into a dense fog that made it impossible to see more than one step ahead.
A perfect smokescreen.
Unable to comprehend what was happening, the Homunculus fired another three spears toward the riverbank where Siwoo was standing.
Something exploded. Mound of dirt soared up to the sky and fell into the river.
Time passed. The fog dissipated in the wind and the monster regained its vision back. But Siwoo and the twins had disappeared without a trace.
“Mr. Assistant, are you okay?”
Since it was an impromptu decision, Siwoo’s and the twin’s reunion felt like a stroke of luck.
If it hadn’t been for the twins who had rushed to find him in the nick of time, they would have probably been separated and scattered around the place.
After they found him, they immediately used their Water Lizard’s Stride to distance themselves from the Homunculus.
Currently, they were hiding in a crevice in the trunk of a tree that was split in two.
In that place, a cluster of oyster mushrooms-like mushrooms grew.
“Let me look at it…!”
Odette rolled up Siwoo’s pants to inspect his wound.
His ankle was completely wrecked.
It was swollen to one and a half times its normal size. Siwoo felt that his bones might have been cracked.
“Why did you do something so reckless!”
In tears, Odile chided Siwoo.
“If we had continued to confront it directly, we would end up dying…”
Siwoo’s assessment of the situation was accurate.
Odette’s rescue signal couldn’t work properly and the twins’ attack had failed.
Even if they could hold the monster off for some time with their barrier, in the end, they would only be prolonging the inevitable.
The moment their magic was depleted, they would have become prey to the Homunculus.
“I figured we could escape from it if we were to block its sight since we can conceal our presence with the music box.”
“It was still too risky of a plan! My heart almost jumped out of my chest, you know?!”
“She’s right! I thought you went insane, Mr. Assistant!”
Odile grabbed Siwoo by the collar and shook him while scolding him rapidly. Meanwhile, Odette also chided him from the side.
The twins, who had watched him running from behind, understood what kind of situation he was in.
Jumping to avoid the tail that the monster swung at him at the perfect timing..
It was a life-and-death situation. If there was even a tiny delay in his jump, or he ended up jumping a second too early, he would be dead right there and then.
To put it simply, it was like a life-and-death rhythm game.
“But, I managed to buy us time.”
“Stay still, I’ll treat your injuries.”
A warm light poured over Siwoo’s swollen ankle.
“You can walk, but don’t run like before. Honestly, this is the first time I’ve used magic to heal someone’s injury, so I don’t know how potent it is.”
“I’ll be careful.”
Even if the twins were to berate him for being a troublemaker, Siwoo wouldn’t mind.
About using magic to heal, how it worked was it stimulated the cells to divide itself quicker. As a result, the target’s self-healing would increase.
“What should we do next? Should we just hide like this until everything is over?”
As soon as Odile finished treating Siwoo, Odette said that while trembling anxiously.
A thunderous sound, which didn’t sound like it came from too far away, shook the ground.
The vibration, which was caused by a huge tree falling, was transmitted directly to their buttocks.
It seemed like after it lost its plaything, the Homunculus indiscriminately attacked the surrounding area to find them.
“We have two options.”
Siwoo picked up a branch that was rolling around inside the crevice.
The ground inside the crevice was soft because they used it as a place to cultivate mushrooms. Due to that, it could be used as a makeshift blackboard.
“Option one, wait quietly and pray while waiting for another witch who noticed this anomaly to come and find us.”
As long as they had the music box, the Homunculus wouldn’t be able to identify them with only its bare eyes.
Taking advantage of the plan, they could just drag out the inevitable while playing hide and seek.
In other words, this was the so-called Prayer Meta.
However, with this option, there was a possibility that we’d get hit by the Homunculus’ rampage
The drawback of prayer meta was simple, ‘if your luck was bad, then you were screwed.’
Odile wore a serious expression, seemingly aware of that.
“What about the other option?”
“We’ll hunt that guy.”
You can rate this series here.