356 Not Like This
Tycondrius kicked a foot forward, skidding as his boots scraped against the ice. Catching onto Centurion Zenon's forearm, the both of them slowed to a stop before a unique Lake Eel phased through the ice, roaring at the sky to show its dominance.
⟬ Dire Lake Eel, Gold-Rank Magical Beast. ⟭
It was twice as large as its kin, its ghostly scales hardened and scarred, and had bony plates adorning its belly and head. More worrisome was that the color of its scales were a deep red instead of the frosty-bluish of its peers.
...It looked surprisingly similar to a Flood Dragon, essentially an overgrown river eel. Tycon had met one before, but the current enemy appeared to have greater intelligence. It did not talk to prove otherwise.
"Optio!!" Zenon yelled, "I'm not sure if we can fight that thing!!"
Tycon spent an annoyingly high amount of willpower in not rolling his eyes. The two of them were more than strong enough to fight 'that thing'. The dilemma at hand was whether or not it was worthwhile to fight and defeat it.
"We're going around it!" Tycon yelled.
"I'll cover you guuuuyyyys!!" Karodin shouted.
Tycon whipped his head around, seeing the Bronze-Rank Legionnaire running as if his life depended on it.
Karodin of Idiot-Hold.
Empty. Night. What in the seven hells was that man doing here?
A white sphere of power coalesced in front of the Dire Frost Eel's open maw, greedily absorbing mana from its surroundings.
"Move!!" Tycon pushed Zenon away, giving him the momentum to begin increasing his speed, "⌈Tumble!⌋"
Activating his movement technique, Tycon skated towards Karodin, hooking his arm and spinning the two of them to the side. The Dire Eel's concentrated beam of mana bored into the lake, nearly obliterating the both of them.
"S-s... ir Tycon..." Karodin cried, "I think I'm gonna be sick... ughhh..."
"Zenon!!" Tycon yelled.
"I got him, Optio!!"
Tycon released the whirling Legionnaire, sending him sliding across the lake surface, quickly losing his balance and slamming onto his side. Thankfully, he fell onto his shield, which acted as a makeshift sled and reducing his friction. Zenon thrust a hand forward, a concentrated blast of wind sending Karodin careening forward.
Karodin was screaming, spiraling wildly as he skidded along on his shield. While Tycon felt somewhat sympathetic for the human, keeping the Legionnaire alive was more important than saving his dignity. Anyroad, the forward momentum of the trio remained towards their objective, the third seal.
The Dire Lake Eel was eyeing Zenon with great interest, but Tycon had an answer for that. He lashed out with his sword-turned-whip, striking the creature's face.
While the damage it dealt was superficial, the attack caught its attention and baited a lunge towards the passing Tycon. Tycon reactivated his ⌈Tumble⌋ skill, grabbed hold of one of the creature's bony face-plates, and vaulted atop it to run along its back. Dismounting before being shaken off, Tycon caught up with his Centurion and spinning-shield Legionnaire.
"Optiooooo!??!" Zenon shrieked in panic.
Tycon glanced back to see the overgrown fish charging another beam attack.
"Go left!!" Tycon ordered.
As Zenon peeled to the left, Tycon jumped onto Karodin, causing the human to painfully, "Oof!" while stopping him from spinning. Kicking against the ice to speed Karodin's movement, the snake and the human-sled careened towards the right.
The Lake Eel's powerful beam attack again cut through the ice, again missing the trio as they sped out of its attack range.
"We're nearly at the third seal!" Zenon yelled, "It's just behind that rock formation!!"
"Technically incorrect!" Tycon returned, "The seal is inscribed into the rock!!"
"Optio!" Zenon roared back, "Is it really the time to nitpick about that?!"
Tycon did not respond. It was not.
The trio had escaped the Dire Eel. It would remain problematic for whichever group had to deal with it next --but the problem wasn't theirs.
As the dazed Karodin was in no state to run, Tycon had transitioned to carrying the fellow in his arms. The human's helmet had fallen sometime as he tumbled across the frozen lake, revealing his dark blue hair. He had lost his pilum, but his discipline was tempered enough that he kept his shield. A short sword remained sheathed on his side, standard of all Tyrion Munifices. That would be enough.
Vomit had splashed onto the front of his armor and soaked a bit into his tunic underneath. He reeked, but he was alive and could feasibly still help with defending the third seal.
"Sir Tycon! This is really embarrassing!" Karodin moaned, "Can you carry me a different way?"
Tycon couldn't remember the last time he'd heard so many gripes in such a short amount of time. Karodin was saved on reflex without much thought placed into it. After breathing in the Legionnaire's rancid breath, Tycon grew far less keen on keeping the fellow comfortable.
He dropped the fellow onto the ice, shield-down, but grabbed onto his leg and continued to drag him along.
"Not like thiiiis!!!" Karodin sobbed, "Sir Tycon! Sir Tyconnnnn!!!"
Why in the seven hells and eleven heavens was this particular human so difficult to please?
Tycon and Karodin rested against the rock to catch their breaths. Zenon shut his eyes, listening to the wind.
"We have to move quickly," Zenon grimaced. "The group protecting the third seal isn't doing well."
While Tycon was tempted to climb the rocks to look over, he trusted Zenon's judgment, "Has your sense of balance returned, Mister Karodin?"
"Y-yeah. I think I'll manage, Sir Tycon," The blue-haired human smiled weakly. He raised a trembling hand, gesturing with an upwards thumb.
He did not look or sound confident. Tycon placed a finger on Karodin's outstretched hand and pushed it downward, receiving no resistance.
"Stay back," Tycon ordered. "I'd prefer you alive for later than to have you make a foolish sacrifice, now."
"But I..." Karodin gulped, shrinking back from Tycon's glare, "I... Hrrk-- alright..."
Tycon was almost impressed by the number of times and amount of liquid Karodin managed to expel, "Rest. Take deep breaths. Circulate your mana to restore your senses."
Karodin stared blankly at the order, jaw agape.
...Did the Legionnaire not know how to circulate his mana?
Tycon did not expect Karodin to join them anytime shortly.