After the victory with the giant rats and taking a quick bath on a river nearby to clean off the blood on herself, Ellie began to rely on Marcus and Lilith's help less and less while dealing with the rest of the monsters on their path.
"You're using your diamonds too much!! Try to mix it up a bit with your blades!"
They kept encountering several creatures as they continued their advance towards the time ring. Like always, the beasts looked like mixtures of regular animals with different shapes and sizes and porting some form of elemental energy inside their bodies.
Every now and then one would land a lucky hit on Ellie, but the girl would just ignore it and continue to battle without giving her opponents any time to breathe.
"These monsters attack with projectiles! You need to close your distance and stab them before they can run away!"
It took a while but Ellie was finally getting the hang of it. With each fight, she would get sharper, would react faster, and would understand her powers better. Gone were the moments where she would stand still frozen without knowing what to do. The kid was slowly turning into a machine of destruction.
Detra was overflowing with joy by watching the little girl continuously growing just like she wanted.
"Now!! Strike it while it's down!! Don't give it time to react!!"
Detra decided to follow Lilith's advice and kept giving Ellie hints and tips on how to deal with the monsters they encountered. She had basically turned into her coach as if Ellie was a professional boxer and the entire jungle was her ring.
Right now the girl was stabbing a monster that bore the resemblance of a massive yellow lizard with a lion's mane made of fire that could spit fireballs from its mouth.
Ellie managed to defeat it making use of all her mirrored abilities. Using Lilith's future sight to predict where the fireballs would land and Mia's spell breaker to absorb the fire magic energy, proceeded by converting it into magic power for herself to keep her mirror magic from ever ending.
She then approached the monster with a shield made of blue diamonds and smacked its head to keep it dizzy, and finished it off with a silver blade to the heart.
Ellie was already turning into a master of mirror magic only a day after entering Hana's garden.
"How was that Detra?" the girl asked while cleaning herself from the lizard's yellow blood.
"Absolutely perfect, young miss!! You're doing great!!"
Detra kept clapping to celebrate Ellie's constant winning streak while noticing Lilith glaring at her, but Detra was so happy right now she didn't even mind it this time and just smiled back at her as if they were good friends.
"You were right! I should have just guided her and tell what to do from the beginning! Look how great she's doing it!" Detra gloated.
"Mmmm..." Lilith didn't share the sentiment. She wasn't a fan of the way Ellie kept killing things so easily like it was some kind of game.
Marcus as well. He, in particular, was very displeased with Ellie's development. In his eyes, the girl was looking slightly like his old pony-tailed partner who just took joy from slaying everything in her path as if there was no tomorrow.
"Hey, can we take a break? I'm getting hungry" Ellie mentioned while hugging her belly. She had been killing monsters for hours now and had barely eaten anything besides her breakfast that consisted of eggs from a giant bird monster she had killed.
"I think it would be for the best honestly..." Lilith suggested.
Detra felt that they were going at a good pace so this time, she decided to go with the flow as well, "I guess we could."
The group then searched for a good spot to sit, away from any dangerous predators, and grabbed a couple of supplies from their bags taking a moment to rest. Ellie looked at her phone again and noticed that it was past twelve already.
"Ellie, are you sure you're ok?" Lilith asked.
"For the last time, Lilith, yes!! I'm fine!! You asked me that about twenty times by now!"
"I'm just a little worried... That's all..."
"Worried about what? We came here to make me stronger to face Mia, and that's exactly what's happening. Why do you keep making such a worried face?" Ellie asked while opening a box of orange juice.
"I just want you to be careful... You're progressing a little too fast."
"And that's bad? Honestly, I feel I should try to be even faster!"
Lilith felt Marcus poking her arm to show he wanted to whisper something to her. Lilith approached her ear and listened to what he had to say.
"What do you think? Should we try to stop her? She's finally looking happy again. Maybe we should let her be for a little longer..."
"Maybe... But how much longer?"
While Lilith and Marcus kept discussing about Ellie's growth rate, the girl turned her attention to Detra, who was enjoying a cup of coffee, to review her performance.
"So what do you think? Am I going to be able to beat Mia at this rate?"
"Maybe... It's still early to tell..." Detra admitted, "you are clearly getting better at using your mirror magic, and even better at understanding the fundamentals of a battle... I wonder what else you could try to improve next..."
"Maybe I should try to mirror something new? I could try to mirror Xadi and try to release lighting magic!! Or maybe mirror Leona so I can learn to use her fire abilities!"
"That would be indeed useful, did you get to touch any of them?" Detra asked.
"... Touch...?" Ellie asked while tilting her head.
"Yes, touch... Mirror magic is activated by touching the person you want yto imitate."
Ellie finally realized how she had acquired her skills as she started diving into her memories. She got her blue diamonds from all the times she would hang out with her aunt, she got spell breaker from the time Mia smacked her in the restaurant, she acquired future sight after Lilith grabbed her to save her from the fire, which resulted in her having a dream that night that could look into the future where she met Myriad, and finally Marcus from the time he tried to console her when she was feeling down.
"Did I ever touched Xadi or Leona...?" Ellie wondered.
She was brought back to the fight against the bull made of wood. Ellie turned into a gauntlet for Daren and shredded the beast, but that wasn't its real body. Now that she thought about it, Xadi doesn't even have a real body anymore, so she could never touch him.
As for Leona, Ellie was so depressed after the fight with Mia that she barely even tried to look anyone in the eye, let alone try to go into physical contact with them.
"Ugh... No... I did not... dang it..." she lamented.
At this moment, Marcus made a suggestion, "What about monsters?"
"Yeah... Monsters have abilities as well... You think you could try to mirror one of them? Maybe you can scream very loudly like Sphinx. You were riding on him when we got chased by that giant crystal spider right?"
"Oh yeah! Maybe I can!"
Ellie had completely forgotten about Sphinx. Thinking back, the reason she managed to use her blue diamonds to face the crystal spider despite not having any magical power was probably because she had absorbed the magic inside of the griffin with spell breaker when she was riding the monster.
"Sphinx..." she whispered. She then was reminded that the golden griffin was also inside of Mia just like her aunt. Thinking about that made her slightly depressed again. She just realized that she had one more she needed to save.
"Sphinx... Aunt Evie... Mom, dad, grandma... Claire's mom... All the people from the city... They all are with Mia while I'm here..."
"Ellie, you can't think like that... You are already doing the best you can to save them" Lilith reminded her.
"But it's still not good enough! I need to try harder! Just like my aunt would! I need to get stronger so I can rescue everyone!! They depend on me!! I need to be better!"
At this moment, Detra stood up and approached the girl while patting her head, "You will! I give you my word on that!"
Ellie started to smile again. Lilith meanwhile just glared at Detra. Watching the woman who ruined all of her friend's lives getting so friendly with the niece of her friend was making her want to draw her sword and slash her hand off. Marcus just held her hand as if mentally begging her not to mind it too much.
For reasons that completely escaped Lilith, Marcus would constantly try to avoid confronting Detra. Despite the lad being able to probably slice her a thousand times before she could even react, he still acted like she terrified him even though she no longer had any powers after a new goddess of the east being selected and any prayer formally towards was now being redirected to her.
"Shall we move on then? I think that lizard was the final monster we had to beat before finishing the summoning ring" Detra mentioned.
"What's the ring we will enter after this one?" Ellie asked while finishing her juice box.
"Probably the ring of memories."
"Oh... Does this mean we will be faced with some sort of memory magic that will make us revisit some of our most traumatic moments in order to face our fears and try to get psychologic stronger?" Ellie asked, "I see that happening all the time in movies and tv shows!"
Lilith and Marcus began to shiver after hearing about having to relive their most traumatic moments. These two had a lot of them.
Detra just stared at her with her eyes wide open surprised that the young miss would say something like that so bluntly, "What...? No! The memory ring is a defense mechanism where the forest will try to project warriors from the past to try and stop any intruders from advancing."
Marcus and Lilith released a deep breath in relief.
"The ring you're talking about is the ring of fear. That one is after the ring of memory" Detra added.
Marcus and Lilith stopped breathing.
Ellie placed her index on her lips for a moment, "Why is it called memory ring then? What does projecting warriors have to do with memory?"
"Because the warriors projected are the strongest warriors that tried to enter this place in the past. They are warriors from the forest's memory."
"What...?" Ellie shivered. Detra simply stood up after finishing her cup of coffee and looked at the dazzled girl.
"Come on! Time for you to face some of the greatest warriors of all time!"