Kira jerked up, and Diana turned toward the Hersha, confused. Just as the [Knight] was about to ask whether Kira was okay, a voice hissed from beyond their moderately lit circle. “Foolish Hersha. This will be your only warning. Cease whatever it is that you’re doing.”
Kira stoically ignored it and began struggling against her bonds with even greater vigor. Diana swore the Hersha began to increase in size, her hair puffing up, which ought to have been impossible with a suppression collar.
From the shadows emerged another Mimic, this one much more monstrous in appearance that the human-like puppet from before. It looked like a twisted abomination of a wolf-man, commonly known as a Bruin. Diana watched, aghast, as the terrifyingly mutated and warped creature agilely bounded toward them. Kira growled, low and deep in her throat. “It’s time, Diana. He’s coming.”
Diana tensed. Who was this he? Could it be James? She felt her heart skip a beat at the thought. Then, it beat even faster as she realized that the Bruin had entered their circle of light.
“Heel!” The wolf-like creature immediately kneeled on the ground, whimpering. Suddenly, three shadows emerged from the darkness.
One of them spoke with a nasal voice, “My brothers, it appears our youngest has made a mistake. That was no suppression collar.”
The second one on the left chimed in, “Junior brother, when we next encounter the master, you will be suitably punished. Our kind does not accept mistakes, and judging from the mana emitted from that item, you’ve made a big one.”
The rightmost one remained silent, but Diana detected that it was emitting a sullen resentment toward the pair of captives, eager to rip Kira apart.
The three calmly approached, almost unconcerned by the presence of a transforming Berserker.
The leftmost one said, “How interesting… So the cat draws in its master. No matter, he was of some interest to the Master anyway. We’ll capture him after killing her.” With a wave of his hand, two beams of darkness shot toward Diana and Kira.
Kira flexed, ripping apart the bonds tying her: her strength had already nearly tripled despite only completing half her transformation. Jumping to take the brunt of both blasts, Kira grunted while coughing up a mouthful of blood. She growled, “There’s only two things I can’t stand: threats to my master and racial slurs!”
Kira’s chest was covered in bloody matted fur, and her stomach had a nasty looking hole that went straight through her body. It seemed that their captors had still been wary of killing Diana and hadn’t attacked her with full force, allowing Kira to survive the relatively gentle chest shot that had actually been aimed at the [Knight].
Diana gazed at the wounded Hersha apprehensively. Once Kira entered her [Berserker] state by activating |Ancestral Linkage|, Diana would find herself in the raging Hersha’s path.
Nevertheless, the pain only seemed to speed up Kira’s transformation, and the Hersha’s eyes filled with bloodlust. Struggling to maintain her mental clarity, Kira croaked, “I’ll be fine. |Berserker’s Will| can keep me alive for a while. At least until I can kill enough to enact |Blood Rites|.” Then, Kira enacted the plan she’d begun since she had first noticed they were being followed.
Reaching underneath her collar, Kira pulled out a grey cube tinged red. Diana’s eyes widened, realizing that was one of James’s cold cubes. When had the Hersha found the time to hide it away?
Kira smirked through the pain. “I don’t wear suppression collars.”
The previously silent one of the three chuckled. “I see a hidden space behind the collar. Still, all your efforts and trickery were merely for this bauble? There are no weapons your master can make that can harm us, little cat.”
“This isn’t a weapon, fu*@ers!”
Activating |Delayed Fuse|, Kira |Threw| the cube at the three approaching figures. Diana braced herself for an explosion, but all that appeared was a reddish mist. The three figures examined their surroundings curiously before determining that they were in no danger. They continued walking forward. Kira used her claws to break through Diana’s bonds. “We’ve gotta get out of here! I don’t know what those three are, but I guess James’s cube really wasn’t a weapon.”
“You mean you threw something when you didn’t even know what it did? Are you crazy?”
Kira shrugged. “Maybe. It was in his “Things Not to Play Around With” section. Those normally do some serious damage.”
Diana hurriedly massaged her limbs, trying to push blood back into them. Kira sighed and tried to hoist the [Knight] up, saying, “We really need to hurry.” Instead, Kira stumbled and coughed a mouthful of blood before clutching a hand at her stomach. With a wry grin, Kira remarked, “I forgot that I’m not in top condition. My pain receptors were clouded by |Advanced Pain Resistance|, so I didn’t even notice.”
Still, Diana was surprised to find far less blood oozing out of Kira than she would have expected.
“|Mastered Cleaning|,” Noticing Diana’s curiosity, Kira explained.
Diana was once again shocked by how prodigious Kira was. A Mastered-Skill was something that few would ever achieve and allowed users to break the very bounds of reality. It looked like Kira was using this to artificially keep her blood from spilling out under the pretense that it was to keep herself clean.
The wolf-man noticed that they were now free of their bounds and ignored its previous orders to remain kneeling in an attempt to take initiative to strike at the escaping prisoners. Other Mimics emerged from the darkness. Just then the mist finally rose to reach the faces of those black shadowy figures.
Suddenly, the three figures began shrieking as smoke dissipated off their bodies.
“What is this?” One of them cried.
The last thing any of them managed to utter was something about their focus.
Diana watched in amazement as the three figures shivered and dissipated. Then, three black robes collapsed on the ground, the bodies once contained within gone.
She turned to face Kira who had been leaning against her. Had the situation not been so dire, it might have been comical: a thin woman supported a broad-shouldered |Berserk| Hersha. “Kira, can you walk? We’ve gotta go now! That mist… is not safe.”
Kira straightened, and Diana watched in awe as the Hersha’s wounds began to meld; the hole in Kira’s back noticeably shrinking. Kira grimaced. “|Blood Rites| always hurts like hell, but it’s better than being dead.”
Diana guessed that |Blood Rites| was one of those rare combat skills that allowed for passive healing, much like the demonic bear’s ability from before. |Blood Rites| was probably a bit weaker as it didn’t come at the expense of Demonic Corruption, probably requiring a victory against a far stronger opponent to come into effect. The [Knight] thoughtfully gazed at the three cloaks lying on the ground. Could they be?
Kira grimly watched the ring of Mimics now surrounding the circle who all seemed ignorant of the lethal pinkish mist creeping toward them all.
Kira glanced at the approaching mist. “I don’t think that’s going to be possible. Hold your breath. I’ve managed to slow the blood loss.” Moving away from the [Knight], Kira bent her knees, holding her arms wide in a |Brawler’s Stance|.
Despite lacking any master, the Mimics seemed to have reverted to their base instincts to attack anything living in the vicinity. With a roar, all ten of them lumbered, bounded, and galloped toward the unarmed [Berserker] and [Knight]. Diana raised her hands, getting into a |Brawler’s Stance| like Kira. She would not abandon her allies, yet fear settled in the pit of her stomach: without her weapons, the Mimics’ claws would tear her apart.
With a howl, Kira’s claws popped out as she finally completed the transformation caused by |Ancestral Linkage|. In total, her transformation had taken under a minute, astounding by normal [Berserker] standards. Instantly, a furry hand slid straight through a monster’s throat. Ripping it out and dribbling black ichor on her fur covered hand, Kira dropped the now feebly struggling Wolf-man to the floor as she stood in front of Diana, their backs against the wall next to which they had been held captive. Diana flushed a bit gazing at Kira’s burly form. For some reason, she found herself attracted to the fierce Hersha despite the blood covering her broad form. In fact, if Diana were being honest, it made her more attracted.