Previous: Chapter 24
Next: Chapter 26
At the end of the mine lay a tiny room—light seemingly unable to enter. Within these shadows, a coffin was placed in the center. If one could view it, they would see that it was made of some sort of metal that had begun to rust. From the cracks that could be seen along its design, chaonic energy started to leak out.
“…What are you doing?” Jason asked, staring at the group’s leader, who had taken a seat in a chair next to Carl’s. “You’re using power directly from that?”
“If Authority is lost over the mine, then this is the only way we can do so,” The man explained.
Jason’s shadow let out a sigh. “What exactly do you plan on doing with said energy?”
“…Oh!” Carl’s face lit up as he peered through the mine with another shadow—they could only watch over what was currently happening. “You’re… gonna make one!? Yeah? Yeah? Yeah!?”
“That’s right,” The man leaned back in his chair, holding his head to concentrate. “This should be a good test.”
Inside the cavern, the energy formed into a giant red mass as it exited the room and into the wide-open area. Black hooves dug into the ground as four muscular and hairy legs emerged—the transformation beginning.
“…Does everyone here know the tale of the Blood Bull?” The man asked.
“Huh? Blood Bull?” Chris was confused at the name.
“I do,” Derek responded. “Wait… that’s what you’re trying to make?”
“Not ‘trying.’ I’m going to make it.” The man stated firmly as he sat up—eyes closed. “The Blood Bull… After witnessing its mate killed by humans, it lost its sanity. It, in turn, began to kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. That’s all the beast’s existence centered around. The tale goes that its own horns developed a dark, sinister power as they absorbed all of its victims’ blood. You could not escape it—the curse drew in people despite their fear. You could not fight it—the thing seemed immortal. It only died from its own exhaustion, so they say.”
“Why…!?” Jason questioned. “Just why are you going to throw that thing at them!?”
“Cause the good guy always wins.” The man responded. “Well, they always have the capability to as long as they are willing to make sacrifices to do so. That is the test I’m giving. Let’s see what they come up with.”
The Blood Bull walked at a brisk pace while it’s upper body continued to manifest. Sharp, crimson fur covered its enormous frame while its head began to emerge. The bull’s horns formed, completely drenched in a substance identical to blood.
Just when the process seemed to be complete, something occurred, much like a glitch in a video game, the Blood Bull’s body to shift and distort in a red pixelated fashion.
“Interference…?” The man shook his head—the strain increasing in intensity.
“It’s because of their Authority, isn’t it?” Jason asked. “Even if you still have control over the coffin’s power, that cave is now—”
“No…” The man’s crimson eyes opened. “This is something else. Carl—” He glanced over to the man in the chair next to him. “Bring up the data in File IV for me, would you?”
“…Wait, wait, wait!” Carl shot up from his seat—a mixture of excitement and concern controlling his body. “If you’re asking about that file, then do you mean…!?”
“Yes, I do. Get to it.”
“Right, right… right.” Carl sat back down, typing furiously on the keyboard.
Derek stared at the two men anxiously. “File IV…? What could that be?”
Despite the error, the Blood Bull—for the most part—had indeed appeared. Regardless of it being a creature of myth or reality, it was a fact that the man—the apparent “leader” of the group—had created a living, breathing monster.
Composed of chaons, it was naturally known as a “Chaonic Entity.”
And it had one goal: Kill.
Beginning to charge ahead, the Blood Bull was rather swift even with its massive size. The entire cave shook as its hooves continuously made contact with the ground.
It was at this point where Charlotte, Winona, and Brandon could see the beast approaching them.
“W-W-What is that thing!?” Brandon asked in an immense panic.
“It came from the end of the mine… A place our Authority couldn’t seem to touch.” Charlotte explained, changing the sword in her hand into a bow. Creating an arrow, she quickly fired at the monster—the projectile making contact in less than a second. This did nothing, however.
“Winona! Move those two to safety!” Charlotte ordered, creating more arrows and firing them with more power. Just like the first one, these too proved ineffective.
The Blood Bull prepared to charge at Charlotte while Winona used her sand to move Adam and Brandon away from the battle zone.
Charlotte intercepted the strike by changing to a gigantic axe—a crimson horn clashing against the sharp and bulky weapon. The force caused the earth surrounding her to shatter to pieces.
“This thing… What the hell is it?”
Charlotte noticed a peculiar sensation as she stared at the bull’s horns. It was a malice of some kind, one that neither human nor beast could generate normally. While she struggled, the ghost girl realized another oddity.
“It’s chaonic… but my power isn’t purifying it?”
Her axe began to crack as the Blood Bull swung its head toward the side, obliterating the weapon—the energy behind the impact launching Charlotte toward a large stalagmite.
Instead of phasing through, she maneuvered around the obstacle, regaining control over the direction she flew in. A moment later, the monster smashed through the stone, continuing its pursuit of her.
“It’s focused on me. Good! As long as I can keep it away from them!”
A ball and chain appeared in Charlotte’s hand. She swung the rattling weapon around a few times, building up momentum. Despite how heavy the object was, she still managed to fly with ease, evading the Blood Bull’s rampage.
While the already torn up cavern was ravaged, a storm of stone scattered around the area. A good distance away, Winona used her Concept to prevent the wild projectiles from causing further harm to the boys behind her.
Brandon was speechless at the sight. Even if his leg happened to recover through some miracle, he lacked any sort of courage to face a demon of that caliber.
From the dust, Charlotte launched the ball at the beast. The contact made with its left horn created a gale which blew the stone and sand around them away instantly. Even though she swung with all of her might, her weapon could not dent the creature.
With a roar, the Blood Bull whacked the ball off to the side, prepared to continue its rampage. As it did this, Charlotte motioned the chain in her hand upward.
“How about this!?”
The action caused the ball to swing around the creature as the chain wrapped around its neck in an attempt to strangle it.
At least, that’s what it seemed like Charlotte was plotting. As an Ouderkirk, she could take this “ordinary” ball and chain and cause much more damage. When the weapon had fully constricted the beast—the sphere resting on its horn—she clenched her fist.
The ball became a bomb—phantonic energy stored within was unleashed, producing a devastating blast, point-blank on the Blood Bull’s head.
“Wow…” Winona watched in wonderment at the power Charlotte held.
“Holy shit…” Brandon said, completely astonished. “Did… that do it?”
A burst of crimson energy answered that question for him. The Blood Bull’s horns radiated magnificent power, which knocked the sky-blue explosion away.
“What the—” Charlotte could feel the intensity of the beast’s power as it surged through her and the entire mine. She was certain now that this demon had the capability to take back the Authority that the enemy had lost. She could not allow that—the Authority had helped her keep her body stabilized without having to worry about absorbing phantons in the surrounding area, focusing all of them toward the battle. Without it, the fight would be nearly impossible for her to win.
Along with that, she was well aware of the Authority keeping Adam alive.
“I can’t let it fall back into their hands… If that happens, Adam will—”
She glanced in the direction the group had moved. Adam was quite the distance away, yet was somehow speaking to her. Even stranger, he was entirely unconscious at this point, with the World Mirror struggling to heal him in time.
“I guess Authority lets me speak to you like this,” Adam’s voice noted. “We both share it here, after all.”
“W-What’s up? I’m kind of busy here—” Charlotte—terrified—evaded the Blood Bull just in time, as it had crazily decided to leap up into the air and smash its head into the ceiling above in an attempt to strike her. The resulting avalanche of stone was nothing to the beast, shaking it off as it came back down.
“I can still tell what’s going on… Damn, this stuff is freaky. I can’t even explain how this is happening, but it just is.”
“Heh…” Charlotte created several javelins, launching them one-by-one at the Blood Bull from varying directions to see if she could find a weak point. “These powers sure are strange, aren’t they?”
“Yeah. And I don’t think you can defeat that thing with your current strength,” Adam stated. “That thing’s a Chaonic Entity, I’m guessing. It looks like the Blood Bull from the requian myth titled—naturally—The Blood Bull.”
“Is it something similar to how that man was using his powers, based around stories of Requiem? I assume—Authority and all—you saw what happened there?”
“Sort of. Although… it’s sort of hazy since I was unconscious. I’m guessing?”
“You’re guessing a lot, aren’t you?” Charlotte couldn’t help but smirk in response.
“Yeah, remember my whole heroic speech a few minutes ago? With not knowing anything—anyway, back on topic. The Blood Bull is resilient, desiring to kill anything in its way to avenge its mate’s death. I figure that fact is transforming into power for this thing. In which case, you need to unleash everything on it if we have any hope of winning.”
“That… seems like a really nonsensical strategy,” Charlotte admitted. “Besides, my power right now… I’m not sure what the limit is.”
“…I think I have an idea. You’ll probably hate this one even more, but…”
Charlotte managed to catch her breath while the dust gave her temporary cover from the Blood Bull’s constant attacks. “What is it…?”
“You take all of the Authority—one hundred percent of it. The mine will be all yours. Use the power it has and destroy the hell out of this thing.”
“You’re right… That plan is horrible.” Charlotte shook her head. “You need Authority right now! If you lose it, then you’ll—”
“I’m gonna be honest with you…” Adam interrupted. Charlotte flew around close enough to where she could see the three clearly. He had regained consciousness—Brandon and Winona were unaware of this—and looked at her with only his right eye open. “Right now, even after everything that I said… I still feel like I wouldn’t mind dying. Especially if it was to make sure you guys were safe… I-It sucks—feeling this way… However, knowing how much everyone would suffer if I were gone… I-I won’t. I can’t… put them through that experience again…”
It seemed as though Adam was about to cry. As she noticed this, Charlotte began soaring around in random directions while the beast continued its desire to kill, smashing multiple projectiles that she threw at it.
“So, I have to ask… Do you trust me?”
“Yeah. Do you trust that I’ll survive, even without Authority?”
“I-I mean… the World Mirror is restoring your body as we speak. But I’m not sure if the speed of the process is—”
The Blood Bull managed to close the distance between itself and Charlotte. As it prepared to smash its head into her, multiple stone spikes ascended from the ground below, piercing the beast multiple times.
“This is…!?” Charlotte looked over—Winona with her hand planted firmly on the ground.
“I… I said I’d be back up, remember…?”
Even though Winona had managed to break through the demon’s fur, the Blood Bull thrashed around, breaking free with ease. The small wounds received lit up with chaonic energy as they closed swiftly.
“Heh… I prepared them to be wicked sharp, but I also took into account the vibrations it caused while stomping around. I got a basic timing down on how it moves its legs, and at what point the belly is most exposed.” Winona’s body began to shake. “I-Is this my limit…?”
“…You’ll just have to trust me,” Adam said. “We can’t let anything happen to them, yeah?”
“I…” Charlotte hesitated in her response. At this moment, the Blood Bull changed targets, now aiming for Winona and—in turn—Adam and Brandon.
Whether she used a projectile or simply blitzed the beast with her speed, Charlotte knew she was not fast enough. Her mind, thankfully, was now quick to make a decision.
“I trust you!”
The Authority was transferred to her without delay—Adam had no clue how he did it, yet it happened. As pain overtook him, the last thing that reflected in his eye was nothing but a vibrant azure.
Charlotte had created chains—not from her person but directly from the cavern’s floor and walls. They quickly grabbed onto the Blood Bull, stopping its mighty charge a few feet from Winona.
The demon roared in frustration as the chains were firmly constricting its movement. Winona felt like she was about to pass out—however, she managed to avoid collapsing.
Charlotte landed in front of her, becoming a wall that divided Winona and the Blood Bull. With a tiny motion of her finger, Charlotte caused the chains to pull the demon upward toward the stone ceiling.
“The stomach, huh?” Forming a bow and a single arrow, Charlotte aimed upward as massive amounts of energy concentrated around the tip. She looked back toward Winona and gave a warm smile. “Giving me advice just like then, I see.”
Charlotte groaned as she stared at the assignment on the desk in front of her. It was a large study hall where kids were either working on homework, reading, or even talking amongst themselves—the teacher appointed to watch over the room did not seem to care what they did.
“I don’t get this geometry stuff… Why did I bother going undercover here, again…?” She mumbled softly to herself.
Although sitting a distance away from other students, one girl decided to walk up toward her, sitting in the seat in front of her.
“Shapes can be complicated, can’t they?”
“Huh?” Charlotte glanced up at her. “Y-Yeah, I guess they can be…”
“I hope I’m not bothering you… I saw you struggling and thought you could use some help?”
“I… suppose. It’s not that big of a deal, though.”
“Well, I’m pretty good at geometry—had to study up on it quite a bit for my own… stuff, so…”
“…Do you know which side of this thing I’m supposed to measure first? And what is the point in doing these ‘proof’ things to begin with?”
“Ah, yeah. Those are silly. But I can help you—wait. I know you just moved here, but we only have a few months left before the end of the year. You don’t know about proofs yet!? Ya didn’t learn them at your old place!?”
“Eh… n-no, not really,” Charlotte chuckled. “I guess my old school wasn’t caught up with the times, or something?”
“Well, that’s fine,” Winona assured. “You’re Charlotte, right?”
“Yeah…” Charlotte nodded. “You’re… Winona, if I remember correctly?”
“Mhmm!” Winona replied cheerfully. “Now, let’s take on these shapes, shall we?”
“You were one of the first people to speak to me on their own volition…” Charlotte noted. “Wish I could have told you all that geometry help was pointless, but—”
“It wasn’t pointless!” Winona interrupted. “I had fun teaching you! I-I…” She took a deep breath to calm herself. “…Now that I know the truth, y-you’re not going to leave us, are you…?”
With a smirk, Charlotte casually released the arrow from her grasp as it ascended directly into the Blood Bull’s gut. An explosive force began tearing through the creature—the entry point the epicenter of the energy. With the help of the chains, the beast was being ripped apart, piece by piece.
“There. It seems like I can purify it now. Had to peel the fella’ open to get to all of the good stuff.” Charlotte paused, shaking her head. “That was a weird way of speaking… Anyway, I’ll absorb it into the mine so I can use it as a power source—should help us quite a bit. And as for your question…” She walked over and leaned in front of Winona.
“I’m not going anywhere.”
Winona could not help but stare into Charlotte’s eyes—their usual nonchalant energy was masked by a more firm and powerful glimmer. Although the young ghost woman was willing to return the gaze, another matter at hand interrupted the moment.
“Adam! Hey, Adam! Charlotte did it! We… did…” Brandon’s cheer faded quickly upon realizing the current situation.
Adam was no longer breathing.
Next: Chapter 26
Previous: Chapter 24
SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON: