167 That“s my girl!
Ellie woke up at the sound of Detra yelling at her while shaking the girl's body as if it was a snow-globe.
"Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!"
"Wha- What!!?? What happened!?" Ellie mumbled, still being only half awaken.
Lilith and Marcus opened their eyes as well and jumped up worried that they were being attacked, "What happened!? Is there an enemy nearby?? Were we ambushed??"
Detra just rolled her eyes and continued to help Ellie stand up, "The sun is up, time to go!"
Ellie picked her phone and looked at the time, "It's four in the morning!!"
"Great! This way we will make it up for the time we wasted yesterday. Let's go! You need to try and put on a better performance this time."
Ellie just stared at Detra who was trying to gesture her to start moving and decided to just surrender and do as she was told.
"Ellie, wait!!" Lilith asked.
Detra turned around and glared at the swordswoman, "What now??"
"We can't keep going like this! We just keep encountering monsters and getting Ellie injured for no reason!"
"She needs battle experience! The best way to get that is by experiencing battles!" Detra explained.
"She's NOT experiencing battles! She's just getting tossed around and turning into ragdoll for the monsters to play with! What kind of training method even is this??"
"The same one that created the three strongest warriors we know!" Dera declared.
"You mean Evlin and Marceus? Is that how you trained Marceus to turn him into the living weapon?? You just dropped him in here and hoped he would survive??" Lilith asked with horror on her eyes while thinking about her old leader getting chased around by monsters all day and night.
"Stop making a fuzz. It worked, didn't it? He turned out as a great warrior after he was done here! I was planning to ask Marcus to come here as well before he abandoned me... I'm sure he would have turned into an even greater fighter!"
Marcus heard that comment and began to twitch.
"East, Marceus and Ellie are not the same person! You can't just train one like you trained the other!" Lilith stated. She knew if she couldn't convince Ellie to change her mind about how to behave in this forest, she should at least try to change Detra's mind. The problem was, would Detra even care about Lilith's opinion?
"It's not just Marceus, you know? The crossbow girl also survived this forest!" Detra declared.
Ellie raised her ear from the mention of her aunt and became curious about that, "Oh yeah... You said my aunt came here too...?? On her own??"
"Yes, when she was still learning how to be a mage before leaving on her little quest to try and take me down... She would often take quests from the guild her red-haired friend worked on, and one of them required to rescue a group of adventurers that had gotten lost in here."
"Did she do it?" Ellie wondered.
"No, they were long dead before she ever arrived. She found their bodies and vomited for hours before coming back..."
"..." Ellie did not like that story.
Lilith was wondering how come Evlin never talked about this place before and now she knew why. This is probably not a fun memory to revisit.
"But that's not the point! The point is, she still managed to survive the beasts that lurked in here, and once she came out she had turned into an even stronger mage than before! So did Marceus! And now it's your turn young miss!"
Ellie became filled with pressure. The greatest hero of this magical world and the greatest hero of her own world both had come out stronger after facing this place. She needed to try her best as well.
"I understand!!" she declared.
She then began to march towards their path filled with determination in her eyes. Marcus followed right behind her also feeling like he should try harder as well in honor of his father.
Lilith looked at the two and was amazed at how Detra always knew how to make people listen to her.
Before Detra continued as well Lilith pulled her hand and whispered to her.
"Who was the third one...?" she asked.
"Eh...?" Detra reacted.
"You said the three greatest warriors we know managed to survive this forest... Besides Evlin and Marceus, who else came in here?"
"..." Detra's expression became cold, she looked like she was staring at death itself "When the time comes... You'll find out..."
Lilith released her hand unsure of what that meant, but for some reason, she felt like she was about to dread the answer.
The group continued to walk for a few more hours until another batch of monsters appeared. A group of giant rats of the size of a minivan with diamonds in the place where their teeth should be located.
Ellie just took a deep breath and prepared herself to jump into battle once again. Detra noticed that Lilith was glaring at her and decided that she should make a small change in her strategy.
"Young miss, wait!"
"... Come here for a moment..." Detra said while gesturing with her hand to come closer.
The girl did as she was told and Detra whispered something in her ear.
"These rats always leap high into the air before they attack. If you can time it right, you can get them with one strike of your diamonds while they are falling."
"Yes, now go!"
Ellie turned around and faced the monsters. They glared at the girl with their red eyes and bearing their crystal fangs at her which caused her entire body to shiver.
One of them did just as Detra had told and jumped high up and was about to squash her. Ellie looked at her opponent and readied a diamond pillar to come out of the ground and stab the beast right in its stomach.
"Ah!! I did it!!" Ellie gasped at the sight of her successfully empaling the monster.
"Don't stop!! Here comes the rest!!" Detra shouted.
And just as she said that, two more rats leaped as well and began to drop from the sky. Ellie repeated her movement and made two pillars of blue diamond come out of the ground and pierce her enemies.
"She's doing it!!" Marcus screamed.
One last rat was standing. It was staring carefully at her, waiting for something. Ellie was holding her position and wondering when the beast would leap like his fallen friends.
"What is he doing?" Lilith asked.
"He's learning..." Detra mumbled.
"The giant rats use their leaping comrades as bait to learn the attacks of their enemies... The last remaining rat is now using what he learned from Ellie to come up with a proper way to deal with her..." Detra explained.
The rat then finally moved, not with a jump, but by running with crazy speed towards Ellie.
The girl was surprised by the different course of action and tried to throw a diamond at him as well, but the beast predicted that she would do that and just hoped on top of the diamond before it could stab him.
"Oh no!" Ellie gasped.
The rat was about to bite her and in a panic, she surrounded herself in a diamond cocoon to defend against the attack. The beast noticed her newly made defense but just kept going.
At that moment, Ellie's eyes began to glow in a blue glow and she had a sudden vision. She saw her diamond shield being crushed by the rat's teeth. Her defense would not be able to sustain it and the animal would chew on her left shoulder.
Her heartbeat began to beat at a crazy speed at that sight and another vison came into mind. A vision of herself stabbing the rat right as it was about to attack her. She knew what she had to do.
The rat came closer and closer, preparing himself to bear its fangs on her, but just as he was about to do so, Ellie put away her defense and turned her right arm into a silver blade while pointing it right at the leaping rodent as she jumped inside its jaws.
"ELLIE!!!" Marcus and Lilith screamed.
Her blade impaled the beast's wide open mouth as it kept approaching with absurd speed towards her, making it look like the monster had basically jumped into its own death.
The animal screamed in pain for a couple of moments while trembling in agony before finally falling into the ground.
Ellie used her arm to slice herself free from inside the rat's body and emerged completely covered from its remains as she spotted her friends coming towards her.
They stared at her who just had a blank expression on her face.
"E- Ellie...? Are you ok??" Lilith asked.
Ellie stared at her arm and changed it back from a blade to her normal hand.
"... This was the worst experience I've ever had in my life..." she whispered as she kept trembling and thinking about being inside the Rat and carving herself out with her own hands "Please, let's never talk about this again..."
"Ellie, are you crazy?? Why did you release your shield?? You were doing fine!" Marcus shouted.
"No, I wasn't... The rat was going to break the shield and eat me..." she replied while stepping away from the animal.
"What...? How do you know that??"
"I just know... I saw it..."
Lilith stared at Ellie's eyes and understood what happened, "She mirrored me!"
The girl kept trying to clean herself while the two continued to look surprised.
"You used my ability to predict how to defeat the rat... Didn't you?" Lilith said while holding the girl's shoulders.
"I guess so...?" she replied while touching her eye, "It's more like... The ability just activated itself when it felt I was in danger..."
The three of them got interrupted by the sound of clapping coming from Detra. She was smiling while looking at the young girl covered in guts and looking like a mess as if she was a work of art.
"Now THIS, is what I'm talking about!!" she declared, proudly, "you finally defeated a monster, all by yourself!! And you even got more powerful while doing so!! Great job young miss!!"
Lilith wanted to slap Detra again. Because of her the girl just did something incredibly risky and almost got herself killed. But while she looked upset, Ellie was acting like she just received a prize.
"Did I do good?" Ellie asked.
"VERY good!! Keep this up and you will be ready for Mia in no time!!" Detra responded.
Ellie shook her fist while silently screaming "Yes!" to herself. Lilith was bewildered.
"Ellie... Are you ok?" she asked.
"Why wouldn't I be!?" Ellie asked, still drenched in the rat's blood while grinning proudly of herself.
"Come on! We are almost at the end of the summoning circle!" Detra stated.
Ellie and her continued their path while Lilith stared at the three impaled rats hanging from her diamond pillars and the fourth one completely eviscerated on the ground.
Marcus noticed that as well and looked at Lilith, "She's getting stronger... This is good... Right?"
"... She just killed four monsters in cold blood and barely reacted... Is that how a normal kid should behave...?"
The silver-haired lad thought about that for a moment before replying, "I think we all left normal behind us a long time ago..."
Lilith nodded while showing a depressive expression, "Yeah... At this rate... Ellie will end up just like us... Another weapon..."