268 My magic
The cold breeze of the wind at night continued to caress Leona's skin as she dashed with all her speed through the underground cave of the temple of the north.
"A staff... A staff... Gotta find a staff!!" she repeated to herself while feeling her heartbeat accelerating with each passing second.
Any moment she wasted was a moment where Daren would continue to be in danger while he kept Boris occupied so the fire mage could find a proper weapon to defeat him.
She rushed all her way back from where she came and finally arrived at the spot where the dragon tried to devour her. Getting there wasn't all that hard as the smell of its corpse rotting was infecting the whole cavern and almost made the poor woman want to tear her nose off.
"Oh, gods!! Oh, gods!!! It smells so baaaad!!!" she complained while being on the verge of vomiting.
She had no time for that though. After gazing at the huge hole located in the ceiling she hurried to climb to the surface and arrived in the middle of a jungle.
"Ok... Ok... Now... Just need to find a tree of channeling energy... There has to be one around here somewhere..." Leona whispered, hoping that she would be right. If the worst came to happen and it turned out that there was no tree in sight, Daren would be a dead man.
Leona slapped her cheeks trying to not think about such a terrible outcome and began her search.
While the mage was looking for a staff, Daren continued to hide from Boris by using the shadows of the cave to hide his presence and keeping himself concealed behind a bolder.
Every time the large man would destroy a piece of rock to vent his frustration, Daren would use this chance to sneak behind him and create some distance.
The plan seemed to be working, but Daren wasn't sure for how long.
"I know you're out there, boy!! Come out and face me like a man!!!" Boris yelled while strolling through the cave and slashing every bolder he locked eyes onto into pieces with his large sword.
Daren was about to reply with how he would rather be a living boy than a dead man, but right now, keeping Boris from finding his location was the top priority on his list.
The man with a heavy blade continued to slash and destroy anything in front of him without a care in the world.
"I assumed that since you were from the same group, you would at least have some guts to face me like the crossbow girl did... But I guess you are one of those cowards that let the women do all the work for ya, am I right?" Boris taunted again.
Daren knew that he was being provoked in order to reveal his location, but a part of him couldn't help but feel that there was a bit of truth in the words Boris spoke.
Ever since he lost the ability to turn into a lion beast, it seemed that the women in his life had been doing all the work for him.
His lover, Lilith, with her amazing skills with a sword, his old leader, Evlin, with her magic, her niece, Ellie, with her mirror powers. Even now, all he was doing was waiting for Leona to come back and save him again.
It seemed that if he had no access to his lion, Eclipse, or his partner, Marcus, Daren was always completely defenseless and in need of saving. He still couldn't believe that he was turned into a follower of Mia for an entire week and needed the old goddess of the east to help him of all things.
He didn't want to admit it, but he was starting to miss his curse a little bit. At least back then, he could fight for himself and protect others instead of always being protected. If only he could get some new form of power.
At that moment, Daren began to listen to the sound of water dripping from above. He looked up and realized that a stalactite was indeed crying from the upper part of the cave and making a small pond next to his feet.
Daren stared at the pond and noticed that it was trembling all of sudden as if a large beast was approaching with very heavy steps and making the very ground shake with its weight.
But it was no beast, it was merely a man fueled by his desire for revenge searching for its prey and swinging his blade on the same boulder Daren was using to hide.
The lad almost had no time to react while the sword came dropping its weight on top of him in an attempt to split him in half.
Fortunately, Daren managed to react fast enough to escape certain death, but the boulder was not so lucky and was trashed into pieces.
"Found you..." Boris whispered while holding a huge grin.
"So it seems... For such a big guy you have a lot of stamina..." Daren commented.
"You would be amazed by how useful rage can be to fuel someone to keep moving!!" Boris proclaimed while bringing his sword down one more time.
Daren was once again, able to dodge that attack. He was engaged with one of the world's greatest swordswomen after all. He had seen the path of a blade many times and he knew exactly how to dodge successfully in case he ever made her angry for one reason or another.
Still, Lilith tended to move with agility and precision, while Boris acted like a kid trying to kill a bug with a nuclear bomb because he couldn't be bothered to properly aim his swings.
His blade was heavy, slow, and incredibly easy to predict. The real problem was its power. While his attacks were easy to avoid, the impact of the sword with the ground was enough to throw Daren off balance.
"You have no idea what I've endured after that encounter with the golden bird girl..." Boris continued.
"Golden bird girl...?" Daren repeated, "Oh, right... You faced Evlin when she was fused with Sphinx..."
"Evlin... Just hearing that name... Ugh!! I hate that brat!! I hate her so much!!!" Bori yelled while swinging his blade left and right while charging at Daren like a bulldozer.
"Oh, Lord!!" Daren gasped while jumping out of the way.
The attacks from Boris and his sword were becoming wilder and harder to predict. Boris wasn't using the blade with any thought behind it, he was just swinging it like a mad man, thus, making it even harder to predict.
"Do you have any idea how much I was humiliated that day??"
Daren rolled his eyes, "No... Nor do I really care... But I feel your gonna tell me anyway..."
"Me!! The great Boris!! The greatest mercenary that ever lived!! Defeated by some mere mage after just one punch!! My name became a joke! My legacy was destroyed! My reputation turned into ashes!! All because of one dumb girl!!!"
More rocks continued to be destroyed left and right by Boris' mad rampage. Daren tried his best to continue avoiding his attacks but he was starting to run out of cave space.
"I was at the top of my game!! I had never been defeated before!! I never failed any job assigned to me! But after that day?? Nobody would come to me! All they cared about was 'Crossbow girl this! Crossbow girl that!', all I would hear about was about this damn crossbow girl!! And as for me?? You know what happened to me??"
"I think I can take a guess, but you seem like you're working on some issues, so please go on..." Daren whispered, trying to get Boris to keep talking and rambling to give more time for Leona to return.
"I still remember... That day... The day someone came to me, a very rich man with white hair and orange eyes... I assumed he would be a new client offering me a job... Maybe something to kill, or a bandit to capture... But instead... You know what he said?"
Daren twitched for a moment, "White hair and orange eyes...?"
Boris ignored him and just continued to tell his tale, "He looked at me, snapped his fingers... And with the most hateful smile, I've ever seen... He just said...
'Hey! Aren't you the guy that got smacked by the crossbow girl?'"
"Oh, boy..." Daren murmured.
"I was laughed at... After that day, I was no longer the greatest merc of my time... I simply became... That one guy that the great mage Evlin defeated without breaking a sweat..." Boris commented while raising his sword, "I swore, after that day... That no matter how long it would take... I would find a way to make her pay!"
The sword came down like a flash of lightning. Daren tried his best to avoid it, but this time, his speed was not enough to surpass Boris' swing powered by his hate, and the blade ended up slashing off his left ear.
"Aaaaaaahhhh!!!!" Daren yelled in pain while blood dripped from his head and into his shoulder.
"Hurts... Doesn't it...?" Boris asked, "All this pain inside of me... All this anger... I will unleash it all upon you in this very night!!"
The man began to rush at Daren again but was suddenly stopped by a fireball striking him from the back.
"Guaahh!!!" Boris screamed as he was launched against the walls.
"Daren!!" Leona gasped as she saw his wound while running to his side with a piece of wood the size of a chair's leg, "Daren! I'm so sorry! I came as fast as I could!!"
"Le... Leona..." Daren tried to say while observing a shadow standing up, "Look out!"
Leona followed his gaze and noticed Boris coming to impale her with his blade aimed at her heart. The mage jumped out of the way and while pointing her wand at him, started to unleash a stream of fire aimed at his face.
Boris reacted by pulling his sword closer to his head and using it as a shield to block the flames.
"A mage woman...?" Boris asked.
"What of it?" Leona asked back.
Boris released a powerful glare at Leona, "I HATE MAGE WOMEN!!!"
The large man charged one more time and this time, while the woman was astonished by his immense aura of bitterness, successfully smacked Leona with his elbow using all its weight.
"Kyaaahhh!!" she screamed while being launched backward.
"Leonaa!!!" Daren gasped in horror.
Leona tried to aim her wand at him one more time but she was still so exhausted from not only her fight against the dragon but also running across the entire cavern and back again, all while not having eaten anything for such a long time that she barely had any strength left to struggle. Boris just kicked the piece of wood away and stepped on her hand.
"Boris!! Stop!!! She has nothing to do with this!!" Daren begged.
"I don't care!!! I'm not resting until I slay every single mage that appears in front of me!! Once I'm done here, I'll get a blessing from the god of the north and use it to hunt every single magic-user in the world so I can hang their heads on my wall!!"
"Magic-user..." Daren repeated while staring at the wand that Boris had kicked away.
Leona mentioned before that the color of your eyes is tied to what element works best for you. Green for wind, brown for earth. Daren assumed that blue must mean water since Ellie is a water mage, and amber eyes like Leona must mean fire.
Daren's eyes were grey, so what kind of magic would he be related to?
Whatever the case was, he needed to do something or Boris would kill Leona. Daren rushed to grab the wand, aimed it at the two, and began to focus on everything he learned from being around Evlin for so long.
"Hey!! Boris!! You looking for a magic-user to fight with? Why not try me?"
"Daren!!" Leona yelled, "What are you doing??"
Daren started to feel some kind of power surging inside his body. He felt like his hands were about to explode from how much the wand kept shaking. Once he could no longer bear it anymore, he tried to gather as much power as he could and unleashed all of it while pointing his wand at Boris.
"I'm taking a gamble!!" Daren shouted as a massive wave of blackness exited the wand and created a dark hole in the middle of the air.
Boris stared at the black hole and noticed a pair of red eyes staring back at him from deep inside of it. The howl of a wild beast could be heard coming out of it, and before anyone could react, a huge black lion with eyes as red as blood itself jumped out of it and craved its teeth onto Boris's neck.
"Aaaaaahhhhgghhh!!! What is this!!!???" Boris yelled while getting torn to pieces by the beast.
"E- Eclipse!!??" Daren stuttered while trying to understand where in the world his pet lion had come from. But something did not feel right about the beast, its whole body was releasing a black smoke that followed him around whenever he moved, and its eyes were emitting a sensation of ferocity that Daren had never seen before.
Leona stood up and went to Daren's side while the two watched the black lion continuing to chew on its prey.
"Le-Leona... What exactly is the element for someone with gey eyes...?" Daren wondered, "What is this magic...?"
Leona with a heavy pair of eyes answered his question, "Shadow magic... Your power is the power of darkness..."
Daren looked in shock as his lion finished killing off Boris with barely any effort and stood victorious over his remains.
"Ah... I see... ..."