“I admit,” Pasifae said with a hard tone as though the words refused to escape from her mouth. “You ain’t made of Blackwood for nothing.”
Duliri laughed at the remark. “Getting serious, are we?” He glided backward when he noticed the flow of mana changed around her.
She smirked, stepping her right foot forward. She took a deep breath and held her short staff with both hands. As bluish light began to emanate from the staff, its handle morphed into a hilt while a long blade arose from the shaft.
“Think of it as an honor,” Pasifae said softly before invoking a quick chant. She then lunged forward, dashing towards Hula and Duliri. In a split of a second, she closed the gap between them. She stabbed her sword forward.
In reflex, Hula soared, but Pasifae anticipated it. “Not so fast…” she said, giggling. She spun her body in the air and landed a solid hit on the serpent staff’s lower end.
“What the hell are you doing Hula!?” Duliri exclaimed in annoyance as the duo endured a faint but powerful ripple coming from the sword. “Are you blind? Didn’t you see that attack?”
“Easier said than done Duliri…” Hula clicked his non-existent tongue as they got away. “Remember who we are against right now. And to think that she’s using Lady Allegia’s magic against us.”
Pasifae raised her gaze, then after a second, she jumped. Before she reached the two, Hula easily dodged the attack. They got away as fast as possible. However, what they didn’t expect was for the lady to use wind magic behind her to push herself towards the serpent staff. Every time they make a turn, Pasifae also invoked a series of wind magic to make herself afloat and maneuvered in the air while trying to catch the pesky staff.
“S***!” Duliri said. “How is she keeping up with us?!”
“Shush, Duliri! You’re panicking wouldn’t help.”
“I wouldn’t be panicking right now if you didn’t provoke her more than necessary!” His anxiousness turned into frustration, seeing that their pursuer was coming closer and closer.
“Have you forgotten, Duliri? We still have that ability!”
“Have you forgotten, Duliri?” Duliri mimicked like a child. “It’s you who seemed to have forgotten! Lady Pasifae had drained half of Arthur’s mana! We couldn’t use that more than twice today or you’ll endanger Arthur’s life!”
“I know that! But this is all part of the plan!”
“What plan? I’d appreciate it if-”
“Use your intellect, please!” Hula scowled, audibly annoyed. “Don’t you have any recollection, Duliri, of what kind of human Lady Pasifae is?”
Duliri gasped for a moment, but the realization hadn’t even fully sunk in when they sensed a hand grabbing their body. If the two were only human, the moment they felt her grasp, they would probably have wet themselves as goosebumps spread across their spine. It was one of the few moments that they were thankful that they had such a structure.
“Caught you…” Pasifae whispered, her voice filled with delight. Her lips were curved into a twisted smile. “I shall relish cutting you… bit by bit.”
Once back on the ground, Pasifae laid the serpent staff in the field of grass and stepped on it. She bent her knees as her longsword turned into a scimitar. “Shall I cut the head first or the tail?” she muttered playfully, caressing Hula and Duliri’s fur. A few more seconds and she raised her newly formed blade and swung it downward.
“Stop! Please, stop!” Duliri begged as if he was about to cry even before the blade reached the lower tip of his body.
“Oh?” Pasifae raised her brow, then without warning, she chopped an inch of the serpent staff using an immense amount of wave magic. Duliri screamed once again even though he didn’t feel any pain from it, which thrilled the lady even more. She then lightly tapped different parts of the serpent staff’s body with her sword. “What part should I cut next? The head? Or should I already break the core?”
“Stop! Stop!” Duliri protested while trying desperately to move his body, but Pasifae had already pinned him in place. She even encased the severed part in ice, preventing it from fusing to the main body.
Laughter filled the area for a while as Pasifae savored Duliri’s horrified reaction every time she cut an inch of him. On the other hand, Hula remained silent until only their head remained. “Already tired, are we?” he mocked while Pasifae breathed heavily.
Blackwood, a type of wood that came from the rare species of treants, formed Hula and Duliri’s main body. Many believed that it was one of the sturdiest wood in the world because it had great resistances against different forms of elemental magic. Combined with Katarina’s special enchantment, the serpent staff became even much harder to break. And Wave Magic – one of the Seven Branches of Magical Studies that mainly dealt with controlling the flow of mana, vibration, and composition of objects – perhaps, was one of the only forms of magic that could destroy Hula and Duliri.
However, Hula knew very well that Pasifae wasn’t well versed to wave magic which was why she had to use a lot of her mana just to cut a part of him. And to do it more than fifty times, tiredness now showed in her face as she sweated.
“Let’s see if you can say that again once your core breaks…”
“But I told you before, and I’ll say it again… I dare you if you could. Then you’ll know the trump card we had on our sleeve.”
“What are you saying, Hula? Do you truly want the lady-”
Before Duliri could finish, Pasifae invoked one of her strongest ice spells, her eyes burning in rage. The whole clearing and the surrounding trees turned into a land of ice – the grass, the trees from their roots and to every leaf, the stones, the plants in Katarina’s garden, and even the Hazus in the front yard and the earth wall that surrounded the house – everything became still as though time itself froze. Only Pasifae was moving, her breath becoming erratic. After a while, she used another ice spell, hurling countless numbers of ice chunks towards the frozen head of the serpent staff. Not even half of them thrashed on Hula and Duliri when the gemstone broke, a clear sign that Hula and Duliri were no more.
But Pasifae felt a very faint flow of mana coming from Arthur. Her eyes widened, unable to regain her lost composure. The flow was so low that she could barely perceive it. She then saw the frozen parts of the Hula and Duliri floating in the air as the ice melted. Little by little, the parts melded.
A few more seconds of not blinking and Pasifae cast another spell to freeze the remaining parts, yet a strong mana barrier protected them. “How is this possible?” She cast more spells in desperation, but to no avail.
“Revival… Complete!” Duliri declared playfully once the serpent staff was fully restored. “I never thought that the lady would fall for it… Nice job, Hula!”
Hula hissed. “I never thought that this day would come, that your over-dramatic charade would be of use…”
“Then you should give my acting more credit from now on…”
“Yeah, right,” Hula said, letting out a laugh. “Thanks, Duliri… Nice acting!” As much as Hula hated to admit it, Duliri played a big role in his desperate plan. From the beginning, he deliberately mocked her repeatedly to provoke her and draw from her attention. After all, even if Pasifae had no intention to kill Arthur, it didn’t mean that she wouldn’t hurt the boy. He knew very well of Pasifae’s ruthless personality from Leon’s memory, a person who enjoyed the suffering of others. “And don’t worry… I’ll keep the memory of you shouting like a little girl. I’ll even show it to Lord Artur.”
“Say what-” Duliri stopped as Hula suddenly glided sideward, dodging a hurling block of ice from Pasifae.
“So it’s true,” Pasifae said, desperately suppressing her heavy breaths. Still, her back that slightly arched forward and her sweating face despite the cold gave it away. “Mageha’Proté… the Spell of Eternity… To think that Katarina truly recreated a Lost Magic.” She scoffed before darting a dirty glare towards the duo. “But her version of Mageha’Prote isn’t perfect. Don’t think that you’ve won just yet!”