71 Monster figh
Drya rushed towards Daren first with her blades prepared to stab him in the heart.
"Let's first take care of the weakest one right now!"
Daren froze in fear as the pair of leaf-blades started to approach him but they ended up being parried by Lilith slashing her with her sword.
"Guaaaahhhh!!! This stupid metal again!!!"
Her hands began to burn with immense pain but she quickly started to regenerate them back to normal.
"Daren!! Get out of here!! I'll handle her!"
"But Lilith!! You're still not rested enough to fight!"
"Stop talking and run!!!"
Drya finally finished recovering herself and grabbed a larger piece of fallen debris from one of the destroyed buildings with her vines and threw it at Lilith.
The debris caught Lilith by surprise and she received a bit of damage from the impact.
"What's wrong golden-eyes? Couldn't see that one coming? Where's that future sight that you love so much?"
Lilith was being taunted. She wanted to activate her future sight to face Drya, but she was still tired from using it so much inside the maze. If she activated it now she would probably pass out again.
"Give us Ashley back!!"
Lilith charged towards Drya with her sword in hand tried to slash her. But Drya was so fast thanks to the power she received from Ashley's pain that she could easily dodge it.
"And why would I do that?? I just got my hands on an endless supply of energy for demons, and a weakness to exploit against stick-girl! I'm never letting her go!!!"
Drya turned her arms into whips and snatched Lilith from the ground, followed by throwing her in the air.
Daren stared as his friend started to fall like a meteor but there was nothing he could do. It was still a long way until night could arrive and there was no way he could fight against Drya with his skinny body.
Lilith continued to fall, but in a desperate move, she tried to use the power of her body that was now fused with a harpy and began to flap her arms trying to glide towards the ground.
She managed to slow down her fall but still couldn't properly land without smacking her body against the snow.
"Oh, man... You guys should try and be more like Ashley, just embrace your inner monster and let it loose!!!"
Drya then snatched Lilith's leg with her vines and slammed her into the ground.
Lilith continued to spit a bit of blood as Drya approached her after having changed her arm into a blade again.
"Guess you'll be the first one to go. I wonder how much pain I can get out of Ashley with this death!"
Right as she was about to stab her, Auren with his minotaur body charged towards Drya to push her away from the fallen Lilith.
"Not very nice baldy, wait your turn!"
"Shut up you fiend!! I'm not letting you hurt anyone anymore!"
"Oh... You mean like how you were hurting Ashley a while ago?"
"You know what I mean... You were happy right? The useless and weak Ashley, the pathetic Ashley, she was finally able to be useful to the team!"
"Shut up!! I never once felt Ashley was pathetic."
"But you preferred me right? When it came down to it, compared to the Ashley from before you were feeling much safer when I was giving her power."
He continued to try and attack her but she was too fast for him and kept dodging his moves.
"Even now, while you try to save her... You can't help but think about how once this is over and Ashley goes back to normal... You'll just look at her and think "What a waste...", right?"
"That- That's not true!!"
"Then why do I feel such a sweet taste of guilt coming from you??"
While the minotaur-man was distracted trying to think if there was truth in Drya's words, trying to think if he truly regretted the fact that part of him didn't want the old Ashley back, the plant-demon used this chance to extend her blade on his shoulder.
"Made you look!"
She then started to thrust her blade even deeper and used it to carry the empaled Auren and throw him on the ground.
"By the way... Ashley never liked you..."
[Stop!! Stop!! Please just stop this!!]
"In fact, she never liked any of you! She just went along with your little revenge-plot because she wanted to stay with her sister. Its the same for all of you right? Even now you just want to save her so that you can get on Evlin's good side!"
Drya was ready to keep spouting words that would cause discord among the group but was interrupted by Gustav who was now back on his horse feet.
"You just keep talking as if you know us... But this is all just an act to give you more power. You don't know anything!!"
"Oh! Its Mr. Horse again!"
She leaped towards the sky and threw her vines while in mid-air to pull him towards her. The two started to fall, but before reaching the ground Drya used Gustav's centaur body to soften her landing.
A small crater was formed on the terrain from the impact. Drya was now stepping on Gustav while he laid on the ground.
"Let me give you a little fun trivia mind-reader... I know e-ve-ry-thing about you and your little group. Why do you think this girl was elected as the strategist? Ashley knows all about your strengths and weakness, inside and out!"
"Guhh... Get off me!!"
Gustav tried to resist her but she simply put more strength on her feet.
"I know Auren might look strong but he is such a coward that he can barely hurt a fly. I know Lilith can barely think about harming another person because of her moronic trauma. I know Daren can barely lift a sword to fight anyone with his fragile body as long as we are in daylight. And I know you spend every day, every second of your life, terrified with the idea that your great moment to finally become strong may never come, and that you will have to spend the rest of your life as dead-weight."
Drya stepped on Gustav even further and buried him inside of the crater.
"But most of all... I know that none of you can do anything without stick-girl's help! You like to think you are all working together and helping each other... But we all know that when the time comes, she is the one who will face Marcus, the slayers, the mage, and even the goddess. You all know deep inside that you are just going to let her do all the work like always... Because you all know how useless you are!"
Drya made a blade with her arm and prepared to stab Gustav with it. Auren was still suffering from his impaled shoulder, Lilith was still trying to stand up after being slammed against the ground, and both Ria and Evlin were still unconscious. The team had lost the fight.
"I mean, just look at you all! Stick-girl decides to take a nap for one day and the whole group is already one step away from dying! You seriously thought you could defeat Marcus, the goddess, and the entire demon kingdom? You guys are hilarious!"
She raised her blade and looked right into Gustav's eyes.
"Say good night, Mr.horse!"
Drya was about to pierce Gustav's skin when someone called her from behind. It was Daren.
"You haven't defeated us yet! I'm still standing!"
"... Pffft! Hahahahahahahaha! Are you for real?"
Daren was glaring at Drya while shaking with fear. His heart couldn't stop beating, but he still tried to raise his skinny arms assuming a fighting pose.
"You still haven't landed a single hit on me!!"
"... All right, your funeral lion-boy."
She stepped away from Gustav and started to walk towards Daren.
"I want all of you to pay attention as I carve my blade into this kid's heart while you all can't even lift a finger to stop me! Burn this image inside your memories!!"
"I'm not afraid of you, plant-demon!"
"Is that so?"
Drya turned her hands back to normal and held Daren's chin with her finger while smirking at him.
"Then why are you shaking so much?"
Suddenly, Drya's eyes moved towards Daren's hair as it began to change its tone to a darker color.
"Because I'm trying to absorb all the demonic energy in the air to activate my curse!!"
The next thing she knew, Drya was smacked by a black fist and started to fly towards one of the destroyed buildings.
She found herself buried from the debris and started to build up rage inside of her body.
"Grruuaaaahhh!!! You little pest!!!!"
She released herself from the debris and stared at the one who attacked her. A big muscular humanoid figure covered in black hair with claws where its hands and feet should be with the face of a lion and eyes drenched in red. Drya was staring at the figure with eyes wide open.
"How did you..."
Daren was activating his curse during the day.
"I can feel it... All over the place... All over the air..."
"This place really was taken over by the demons... I can feel the cursed energy all around me... It's everywhere..."
"And now... I'm going to use it to punish you for your crimes... You will give Ashley back to us, and every single one of you will pay for ruining my home!!"
Drya was staring silently at the transformed Daren. She was not expecting to face his lion form in the middle of the day like this. She was enjoying her time tormenting the group because she knew they were all weakened in one way or another. But now, she needed to start fighting seriously.
"Guess playtime is over..."
[Drya!! Please just stop this!! Let me go!!!]
"Mmm?? Oh, what's wrong Ash? Your pain is not tasting as good as it used to..."
"It couldn't be that you actually think lion-boy can beat me right?"
"I see... Guess I need to remind you all, just who exactly you are dealing with..."
Drya started to transform her legs into vines and assumed her usual octopus form from her old body. Only this time the vines were extending much further and were covering the entire area.
Before Daren could notice, all of the buildings were tangled with her vines and the whole ground was covered in green.
"You may look like a besat, lion-boy... But I'm the real demons between the two of us..."
"You say that as if it was something to be proud of..."
"Hehehe... Indeed... Just as you have your pride as a hero, I have my pride as a villain!"
"So... Why don't we find out which one is stronger?"
Drya raised herself with her vines and started to fly towards Daren who remained immobile.
She was covered in spikes all over her body and her arms were pointing at him with two leaf-blades as if she was a living spear.
She was approaching his body with immense speed ready to impale him.
The sound of a huge impact could be heard as she was knocked back by something extremely resistant.
"Ouch!!! My nose!! What in the world...??"
Before she realized, right in front of her was a transparent shield floating in mid-air protecting Daren.
Daren looked at her and started to grin.
"Made you look!"
Before she realized, the floating shield started to move and she was smacked into the ground by it over and over again like a hammer until she couldn't move.
She tried to stand up and resist but before she could, her whole body was entrapped by a transparent bubble barrier made of energy.
"What's going on?? What's the meaning of this???"
She turned her eyes and saw that Ria had finally woken up carrying a very angry expression on her face and was raising her hand alongside Auren towards Drya to keep her inside of the bubble.
"You!! When did you..."
Ria ignored Drya's question and looked at Gustav who was still inside the crater.
"Looks like your plan worked... Mr. horse!"
Drya stared at Gustav's face and realized that he was smiling. He had made a plan to use Daren as a distraction so that Ria and Auren could capture her, and shared his plan using his telepathic ability.
"Not bad for a dead-weight, right leaf-hair?"
She started to scream inside of the bubble after realizing she had been tricked by the entire team the same way she had tricked them.