Lady of the Whip
“Impressive for your first Mystical Scroll!” Chasun clapped. “It would be even more impressive if she was her fire sister, but –” Her musings were cut off by Ellia coming outside to see what the commotion was all about and by the snapping of Su’s whip. There was anger and fear inside of the Rakshasa.
“Who are you?!” She snarled. “What did Lady Arang do to me?!” Elucia squeaked at the woman’s harsh tone.
“Whoa whoa whoa whoa, we don’t know anything about this Lady Arang!” Ellia shouted, breaking into a run. There have been times that monsters had memories of their past before they were summoned, and they were usually the ones who were unsummoned – that is to say that their Summoners decided to set them free for whatever reason.
As Su calmed down, Sara carefully approached her. “Apologies.” She said, without showing any emotion. “My name is Su, and I am here to avenge my sisters, taken by Lady Arang.”
“Well, you aren’t going to find any Nine-Tailed Foxes here.” Yeonhong huffed. She had walked over to see what the commotion is about. “This girl literally just started today.” Su turned towards her and smiled.
“A light Sky Dancer…” She sighed. “I knew one once. She, like Ran and Hwa, were taken by Lady Arang.”
“Don’t think I’m any other Sky Dancer. I’m ME, no one else.” The girl turned away from Su. This reaction was normal for those who knew her, of course, but to Su she came off as unfriendly. She shrugged this off, though, as Sara’s eyes lit up.
“Whoa! My first four-star is an awesome one!” Sara realized. Su had training on how to use her whip, and all her life she had been preparing for anything that required her to fight. She knew how to poison the enemy; to slow them down and to take some of their life force to keep herself alive. She would have been a wonderful protector for any Summoner, especially a girl as small as Sara.
“I simply trained for any encounter with enemies.” Su tried to shrug it off like Yeonhong’s harsh words, but Sara wouldn’t budge and instead helped her off the Summoning Circle.
“I’m Sara, by the way! That’s Ellia, that’s Elucia, Roid and Sieq! Those two are Chasun and Yeonhong! They’re sisters!” The girl rambled on, and for a second Su was reminded of her younger sister, Hwa. She was the middle child, Ran being over ten years her senior and Hwa a month younger than Su.
“I have many questions for you, Sara, but for now, our priority is on Su and this Lady Arang.” Ellia was, indeed, curious as to where she had gotten the Mystical Scroll.
“If you have been to Garen Forest today, you would have noticed the dark energy radiating off of the trees and the grass.” Su started. Sieq sniffed her heels, taking in her scent, before backing away, realizing she was a water monster. The Rakshasa did not notice, though.
“Lady Arang has been there, tainting the monsters, and the guardian of the forest, Icaru.” She shook her head. “My partner and I have been fighting off as many monsters as we could, but we can’t seem to find our way out of the forest and to the guardian to warn him…”
“Partner?” Chasun asked.
“An Elven Ranger; named Lucien. She apparently took pity on me and decided to fight off as many monsters as we could and stop Lady Arang before the damage is spread.” Su changed the subject, to Lady Arang herself.
“Lady Arang is not who you think she might be from her name alone – she’s almost what you would consider human, but she has the traits of a Nine-Tailed Fox and her hair is a pure white. That can’t be normal in humans.” Chasun realized who she was talking about at this point.
“Oh, I’ve heard of her.” She piped up. “Lady Arang is apparently this human-monster hybrid who died, filled with hatred for both humanity and monsterkind, and her spirit was filled with rage and eternal pain.” Chasun shook her head at this point, musing that the girl was just suffering.
“You are correct, Chasun.” Su affirmed. “Lady Arang will be finished corrupting Garen Forest by the twilight of next week’s dawn, and then she will move on to somewhere else.”
“We can’t let that happen, now can we?” Ellia asked. “We’ll get back there, first thing in the morning! You see, we were also brought to Garen Forest, to investigate the sudden hostility of monsters!”
“Really?” Su turned towards the blonde. “Thank you, all of you. I promise to forever protect you, Summoner Sara.” There was a warm, fuzzy feeling blooming inside of her. She had not felt such a thing since Ran and Hwa were taken from her by Lady Arang.
“Right then!” Chasun smiled. “We’ll be going back first thing in the morning!” There were still many questions that needed to be answered, but the whole island was just happy to have a new addition to the team.
“Shall we show you around, Madame Su?” Roid asked her. She shook her head.
“This place is small. I can see the other end of it just here. But, it’s cozy and peaceful, too.” I could get used to it, she was about to say, but bit her tongue at the last moment to keep herself silent.
Everyone awoke at dawn as a howl of pain rang out. Su was already up and out of the door, and on the balcony of the Arena Defense Tower, Sara could see her rushing towards the Energy Gateway, whip in hand. Elucia and Roid were watching curiously.
“I was wrong, Summoner Sara!” Su snarled. “She has already reached Guardian Icaru!” The words hit her like a bucket of cold water, shocking her to full wakefulness. She rushed down the spiral stairs and out the door, shouting for Ellia and her monsters to hurry up, Lady Arang was corrupting Icaru.
Garen Forest no longer had a beautiful sense of awe to it, but instead left a pit in Sara’s throat and a lump that wouldn’t go away. Her heart was throbbing painfully in her ribcage, even with her team surrounding her. Perhaps it was because the Garen Forest was suddenly devoid of monsters.
All that was needed was a ten-minute walk at that point, before they reached the heart of Garen Forest. Ellia was the first to notice the two men in black robes, rushing away. Where they must have once stood, a girl was standing, facing away from them. Her white hair was loose, free to go wherever it pleased as she walked, against her pink yukata, mostly hidden by a red umbrella. What really caught Sara’s eye, though, were the nine fox tails, twitching lazily. All of them were a light tan, the tips as white as her hair. She could also make out a fox ear poking out of her crop of hair.
“Rise, now, Icaru dear. We have visitors.” The girl giggled; her voice high-pitched and childlike.
“Lady Arang.” Su spat out. Lady Arang didn’t turn around fully; just a peek of her pale face and golden eyes that almost glowed could be seen from behind her umbrella. Something was off about her, Sara thought, but then again she had just learned the night before that she was talking to a dead girl who hated her without even knowing her.
“Hello, Sue.” Lady Arang smiled, drawing out the last syllable instead of cutting it short, like others did. “I see you’ve brought friends.”
“What did you do to Guardian Icaru?!” She snarled, whip ready.
“It does not matter, Sue. He will be the first to kill off the pathetic scum that is humanity, and you will be the first victims.” She giggled, just as the howl they heard that morning appeared.
At the top of a cliff, a gigantic blue wolf stood, snarling and baring its fangs. Its eyes glimmered a vicious red as it leaped off the jagged rock and landed in front of them, causing the ground to shake. Ellia yelled in shock and Chasun stood in a protective stance over Sara. She couldn’t fight; she was not runed to do so. Lady Arang had since disappeared, leaving them at the mercy of the wolf.
“A-A gigantic wolf?!” Ellia shouted.
“It’s Guardian Icaru!” Su shouted right back.
“Watch out!” Chasun realized it was coming in for an attack. With gigantic claws, it sliced at Sieq, leaving him vulnerable to other attacks.
“Elucia! Purify!” Sara ordered. The blonde knight went for a double attack, slicing and stabbing at Icaru at the same time. Icaru leapt at Sieq again, this time clawing at him twice. It was enough to take the Hellhound out and while Elucia fretted over Sieq, the Inugami struck again, this time directed towards Elucia. In a fit of rage, Su dashed forward at Icaru, snapping her wrist thrice.
The whip curled and twisted at her command, and suddenly Icaru had been poisoned, over three times stronger than the poison the Mushroom had given Roid earlier. Icaru howled in pain as the poison took effect, weakening him, but he gritted his fangs and held on, determined to win. Elucia attempted to freeze Icaru, but it was like shooting peas at an alligator. Rage burned in the wolf’s tiny mind, and his eyes glowed even brighter, the once neon red it was glowing now tinted with darkness.
Elucia and Roid were down in the blink of an eye, and all that was left was Su. She swung her whip at just the right spot, and suddenly the damage Icaru had done to her was gone. It was just her against the guardian of the forest, and for a second everyone thought that would be it, Icaru would slaughter Su and then get rid of them all.
“Ankle Shot!” A voice rang out, clear as day, as a bright white arrow flew at Icaru and landing at his literal Achilles heel. He howled in pain and thrashed his head back and forth, looking for the one who shot the arrow. A tall, slender creature came out, white hair tied up to keep it out of her eyes and a bow made out of light in one hand.
“Lucien!” Su exclaimed gleefully. The girl turned to look at her partner and smiled.
“Heya, Su. Where’d ya go last night?” She didn’t wait for an answer, and fired a steady shot at Icaru, right into his eye. The wolf was finished with this shot, and bounded back into the forest, whimpering from his injuries.
“Phew!” Ellia sighed, once it was all over. “I thought that was the end, but your monsters saved us both!”
“Why did Icaru wake up all of a sudden…?” She mused.
“He protects the Garen Forest.” Another voice cut in, interrupting the reunion between Su and this elven archer. “Guardian Icaru sleeps unless something is trying to destroy the forest.”
A woman came out of the shadows, purple hair tied up into a high ponytail, like Ellia. Her red eyes showed intelligence and was hidden behind a pair of glasses. She was dressed in what looked like official robes and carried a tome in one hand. Ellia didn’t recognize who this smart-looking woman was, and she had to know. Sara cut in before she could ask.
“Who are you? I don’t believe we’ve met before.” The brunette child tilted her head at her. She immediately introduced herself as Lycana.
“Everything has gone to chaos…” She sighed, looking around. “I was sent here by the Council of Summoners to find you two.”
“Then I suppose you can tell us what happened here?” Ellia asked.
“Guardian Icaru woke up because of that Lady Arang girl, obviously.” Yeonhong looked like she despised Lycana the most out of everyone she had met.
“Guardian Icaru is the protector of a Fermion and his Summoner Marina, who were buried at the deepest end of the Garen Forest, where you are now.” She started. Chasun had heard stories of the Fermion who had saved his Summoner in a car crash, dying in the process, and a year later Marina mysteriously slipped into a coma and died. It had become almost a legend now. “The temple that the two were buried in was destroyed, though, and we don’t know why.”
“My god…” Ellia shook her head. Yeonhong scolded her for her language. No one paid attention to her. “So the whole forest was trying to guard the sanctuary?”
“That’s right. With you two here, though, the whole place is furious, as they think you did it.” Lycana surveyed the damage. Broken trees were everywhere, shattered by the battle between Icaru and Sara’s team.
“We’ll need to get you out of here. Guardian Icaru will return soon.”
“Not that wolf again!” Chasun harrumphed. “We’re getting out of here now!” It was around this time that Sara’s team began to wake up – just in time, Sara would muse later.
“Lucien will be coming along.” Su chimed in. Her friend nodded in silence, glad that she could have somewhere to rest her injuries for the moment.
“Come on, then!” Sara grinned. “Let’s go home!”