Q involuntarily took a step back as she finally understood just how big the guardians were. The Ancient Guardian was a hulking beast, standing well over five stories tall. For a moment Q had an image of a wolf injected with steroids in her mind, as the guardian appeared vaguely wolf-like in form yet looked nowhere near as lean or agile as its animal counterparts. Each step it took shook the ground, and an eerie blue glow in its eyes seemed to lock onto Q, or rather…
“Sanor, I think it’s after you!” Q shouted as she began to retreat from the guardian.
“You… it was you.” Sanor’s voice became eerily sinister as he began talking. “I know it was you. The elders told me that my father was killed by the Urka, but I know you did it. The clothes hanging onto your foot, the shattered weapon stuck inside… I will have my revenge!” Sanor shouted as his form began to move towards the guardian.
“Wha- Hey! Sanor! Snap out of it!” Q wanted to pull him back but remembered she couldn’t even touch him to begin with. With no other option she extended her hand and yelled, “[Spark]”, causing a flash of orange to travel through Sanor’s misty body.
“Aaargh!” The mist that made up his body began to dissolve and for a moment Q was worried that she accidentally killed him. Her mind was put to rest as Sanor’s disgruntled voice came back with an accusing tone. “What the heck was that for!? I almost died… again!”
“You’re definitely going to die if you charge in like an idiot.” Scolding Sanor, Q continued to move backwards as the tremors were beginning to shake her. “You told me that your strongest warriors could leap through the skies and jump on their backs to hit those weak spots, but how the hell am I supposed to jump up that high?”
“Ah… you’re right.” Sanor shook his head as if to rid himself of the rage that overtook him earlier. “Phew… okay, you need to use the [Stormbird’s Flight]. Our warriors were able to soar even higher than the guardians and land with a crushing blow. The strongest ones were said to be able to freely fly in the skies! It’s why I taught you about it.”
“Dude, I literally just learned this skill.”
“Plan B, run!” Q sprinted away from the village and headed towards the forest of vermillion trees.
“Wait, Q! Are you abandoning me? You promised…” Sanor’s form flew dejectedly alongside Q.
“It’s called a tactical retreat, Sanor! There’s no way I can jump that high, so I need to find a high spot to leap from.” Sneaking a glance behind her, she noticed that the guardian was slowly but surely heading towards them. “If the buildings in your village weren’t destroyed I’d use them, but they are, so I’ll have to make do with trees.”
“I see! What can I do to help?”
“I don’t know why, but that thing is out for your blood, or rather, your mist so I need you to lure it towards a large tree. In fact, can you fly up and point out any large trees?”
“Yes ma’am!” Sanor flew into the sky and returned a moment later. “There is a tree larger than the others, a few hundred meters from here.”
“Alright, plan C is a go! Let’s do this!”
Although Q hoped she could get there unimpeded, (virtual) reality proved otherwise. As she ran through the forest the eerie wind swept through the area which caused a swirl of leaves, revealing more Red and Black Spirits. “Why are there so many wolves? Is it because I’m a fox? It’s because I’m a fox isn’t it!?” Q shouted in exasperation as she brought out her staff.
At least ten spirits were closing in from behind so Q began to throw out [Sparks] behind her without even looking. The [Sparks] scattered the spirits preventing them from attempting a coordinated attack, but that didn’t prevent some of the more zealous ones from charging through and attempting an attack on Q. She clicked her tongue in annoyance and finally turned around to deal with these enemies… Or so it seemed as all she did was make a wide swing before turning to the front again. Whether it was intentional or not, she actually managed to hit one of the spirits, sending it flying back. The rest of the spirits attempted to approach but were kept at bay by Q’s constant stream of [Sparks].
Meanwhile Sanor had a far easier time since he didn’t have any enemies to deal with. For a moment he thought about warning Q of the enemies behind her, but seeing how easily she was dealing with them he thought otherwise lest he break her concentration. Since he had a moment to relax he decided to check on the state of the guardian behind him and was alarmed by what he saw. The guardian stopped moving as its initially blue eyes changed into a deep orange color. It then opened its mouth and sent a beam of orange lightning straight towards Sanor!
“UWAAAA!” Diving straight down he managed to just barely avoid the lightning beam which disappeared into the sky.
“Sanor!? What’s… oh.” Q went quiet as she watched the beam of lightning cut through the sky. “Well that would’ve been good to know…” she grumbled.
“I- I didn’t know about that! All I’ve ever seen it do is crush its enemies underfoot!”
“Doesn’t matter! Warn me if it’s doing it again. Also, how far are we from the tree?”
“It’s in a clearing just up ahead! Be careful, I can see some spirits waiting around it.”
“…This freaking game.” Shaking her head, Q found that rather than annoyed she felt… excited. Turns out I may really be an adrenaline junkie after all… You win this round Helen.
Jumping out of the forest and into the clearing, Q saw the seven spirits Sanor mentioned rushing to meet her. “Alright wolfies, OUTTA MY WAY!!” With a ferocious swing of her staff she directly swept away two spirits, while the whole group chasing her through the forest finally caught up. As the two groups closed in on her Q crouched down low and then jumped as high as she could into the air, using [Stormbird’s Flight].
The mysterious force lifted her body about three meters in the air and it was followed up by a strike that hit empty air. Feeling slightly annoyed by the technique’s takeover of her body, she followed up her lame whiff with another technique, [Gathering Storm]. Once again, control of her body was taken away from her as she raised her hands high above her head and she felt ‘something’ flowing through her body and into her arms. She didn’t have much time to think about it as her body swung down the staff just as she was about to reach the open jaws of the spirits below. With a shout, Q’s staff connected with one of the spirits heads and completely pulverized it, continuing into solid ground.
With a ‘BOOM’ the ground around Q was broken as a shockwave spread out from her, pushing back the spirits and even killing a few. “Holy shit. That was actually awesome.” What wasn’t awesome was that Q’s body was frozen in place for a few seconds, probably because of the backlash of using the skill. These few seconds were almost fatal as the spirits regrouped and all pounced on her at the same time. The moment she regained control of her body Q dropped low to the floor and cast [Spark] while aiming at her staff.
The vibrant electricity coursed through her staff and before it wore out she used [Rising Storm], gathering up the enemies around her until she eventually sent them into the sky with the uppercut (leaving her incredibly surprised to find she had the strength to lift almost ten wolves into the air at once). At this point she dropped her staff and brought out her daggers, stabbing any spirit on the ground and finishing them off. She made surprisingly quick work of the rest of the spirits, killing them in one or two stabs (of course to the head or throat). With the rest of the spirits finally dead, Q could now turn her focus on the Ancient Guardian which had gotten dangerously close.
“Sanor, up the tree!” With the grace of a rabid squirrel, Q began to scramble up the tree, piercing its trunk with her daggers when she couldn’t find anything to grab onto. At this point the Guardian had entered the clearing and upon seeing Sanor floating at the top of the tree, its eyes glowed orange and it began charging up another attack. “Shit! Sanor, up!!!” Receiving Q’s orders Sanor flew into the sky as quickly as he could, again just barely avoiding the beam of lightning. Being this close in proximity to it Q clearly felt the blast heat up the surroundings immediately, even setting fire to the top of the tree.
“Okay, now or never!” Q leaped from the branch she stood on and reached out for one of the hanging branches and began to swing back and forth. While she built up momentum the Guardian raised one of its paws, looking like it was going to crush the entire tree. At the exact moment it brought its paw down, Q let go of the branch and soared through the sky… for half a second before beginning to drop. This was enough for Q though, as she activated [Stormbird’s Flight] and was pushed up just a bit higher. The moment her attack hit empty air she switched to her daggers and stabbed them into the Guardian’s shoulder as hard as she could.
Luckily she was able to stick the daggers into an area covered in moss allowing her to latch onto the Guardian. With a moment to look around she saw that the large tree was completely crushed underneath the Guardian’s foot. Speaking of which… Q looked to the Guardian’s head only to see a large pair of orange eyes glaring at her. “Shitshitshitshit-” Q immediately scaled the Guardian’s shoulder in a frenzy as it sent another lightning beam at her. She wasn’t as lucky as Sanor as the beam managed to graze her, instantly chunking a good portion of her health.
“God damn, that really stings!” Q only needed a single glance at her feet to see that the bottoms of her shoes were burnt off, and judging by the pain her feet may even be slightly singed. She had no time to deal with it though, as the Guardian closed its mouth and orange sparks began to pour out of it. Remembering the black spirit which set itself on fire, Q immediately got a bad feeling and yelled, “Sanor! Distract it! Please!”
Righting herself on the Guardian’s back, she saw Sanor’s figure disappear underneath the Guardian while shouting things like, “Over here you stupid dog!” This ended up working out as the Guardian stopped charging its lightning and turned around to follow Sanor who was heading back towards the village. This gave Q an opportunity to survey the Guardian’s back, and she could finally see the weak points that Sanor was talking about. On its back were three large crystal-like shards that were sticking out, and all of them were glowing a vibrant orange before slowly fading back to blue.
“Okay, good to know I’ve got some warning before it uses its lightning. Now to smash some shards!” Q ran over to the closest shard and began wailing on it with her staff. After a few swings she realized that her quick hits were barely affecting it so she switched up her tempo and instead hit it with slower, heavier strikes. This proved to be far more effective as the shard began to tremble from the force of her hits, and she could see cracks beginning to form in some places.
“Q, I think you’re making it really angry! Please hurry!” Sanor’s distressed voice rang out from a distance.
Q also became aware of the guardian’s anger as the blue shards began to change their color to orange, and she could practically feel the electricity being built up inside its body. Luckily Q was able to break the shard by using [Gathering Storm], shattering it into multiple pieces. The moment the crystal broke, the Guardian shuddered and let out an unearthly roar which shook the air and temporarily disoriented Q. Taking a moment to regain her senses she called out, “Sanor, you still alive?”
“Y-Yes… I can still fight though!” Sanor’s voice sounded weak, but there was an unmistakably firm determination within.
“No Sanor, back off now. Just find a safe place to hide, or at least get away from this thing.”
“Go, just leave the rest to me!” Q put on what she believed to be a super cool expression, but upon realizing that Sanor couldn’t see it, became a little deflated.
“…I understand. You can do this Q, I believe in you! Please, avenge my friends and family!” Sanor appeared to leave the area, but the Guardian continued to follow him even after he went out of sight.
“Alright, time to get serious!” Q dashed over to the next shard and began to attack it as well, this time hitting it with everything she had whether it was her staff, spell, or even her bare fists. Everything seemed to go well as her extra attacks worked to break the shard even faster. The problems only started once she broke it and the Guardian began to glow orange while electricity leaked out of its mouth. Q opened her mouth to call Sanor to distract it, but then became distressed as she realized that she sent him away just a few moments ago. Knowing that she wouldn’t survive even a second on the Guardian while it’s electrified, Q resolutely chose to jump off immediately and used [Stormbird’s Flight] in an attempt to guide herself to a safer place to land.
This decision turned out to have saved her life as the moment she jumped off a wave of electricity erupted from the Guardian’s mouth and bathed its entire figure in a blinding orange light. Q didn’t even have time to look at it as she concentrated on landing as best as she could. Her eyes narrowed and her heart began to beat rapidly, as everything seemed to slow down to a crawl. As she approached the ground she stuck out her legs first and began to shift her weight to the side, causing what would have been a hard crash to turn into more of a crazy roll. She used both arms to protect her head as she rolled and bounced on the ground, taking damage each time it happened. By the time she stopped rolling her health was down by half and she was hit with a [Stunned] status.
“Urgh… I guess… that confirms fall damage is a thing.” Grimacing, Q struggled to get up but couldn’t seem to muster any strength in her body at all.
It was only after a few more seconds when her [Stunned] status disappeared that she was finally able to move, and she turned around to see a truly imposing sight. The wave of lightning had completely burnt away all of the moss covering the guardian’s body, revealing a set of intricate patterns carved onto its stone body. That wasn’t all as the Guardian’s orange color slowly deepened and eventually became a deep crimson, then its two eyes fixed onto Q, rooting her in place with a stony glare. For the first time in a long time, Q felt a spark of fear in the back of her mind.
Her body began to tremble as she stared helplessly into the Guardian’s eyes which were slowly getting closer to her face. The now red lightning began to slowly trickle out of its mouth and a few sparks casually fell around Q, dealing damage to her, but she paid it no mind. So… this is as far as it goes, huh? I already tried my best, and screwed up at the end… just as usual I suppose. Would Sanor blame me if I gave up here? Would… I blame me if I gave up here?
Suddenly, a ferocious expression appeared on Q’s face. Give up? I’ve done enough of that already! That’s why I’ve decided to give it my all this time! I may have run out of cards to play, but even then… I…!
“I’m not done yet!” Fear and anger mixed together, causing a yell to escape Q’s lips as she threw her dagger into the Guardian’s eye. Whether it was due to her sudden outburst or a bit of luck, she somehow managed to get the dagger stuck directly in the center of the guardian’s eye, causing it to recoil in pain. “That’s right you stupid sparky rock! Come and get some!” Q ran and disappeared around the corner of a half-destroyed building while the now enraged guardian angrily stomped after her.
With a mighty sweep of its paws it easily leveled the ground in front of it leaving behind a deep scar in the earth. Its remaining eye flashed red as it scanned the ground for any trace of Q. This continued for almost a minute until it seemed to lose interest, its color changing back to blue before walking off in another direction. It was at this time that a small red figure darted out of a pile of rubble and approached the Guardian’s hind leg.
Thank god Sanor’s house was close by. If I didn’t hide in the basement that paw sweep would have gotten me… Q idly thought as she got up close to the Guardian. Now that the Guardian wasn’t paying attention to her she was able to observe it with greater detail, finding out that the rock hidden underneath the moss had deep grooves which she might be able to climb on. Well, here goes nothing! Although she had no idea whether the Guardian would notice her presence, she had no other option to get up on its back.
Q then began a slow climb up the Guardian’s hind leg, only moving when the leg was still. Thankfully the Guardian didn’t notice her presence and she was able to scale her way back up to the top of its back, where the final shard was letting out a bunch of sparks. Q steadied her breathing, pulled out her staff, and pounced at the final shard. Her attacks this time were steady and unhurried, despite the shard beginning to change its shade from blue to orange. Every single one of her attacks (both physical and magical) were focused on the exact same spot, causing a large crack to form. As she attacked she was constantly being bathed in the sparks flying off the crystal, but she hardly bothered with dodging them as failing to break the shard would end up in her death anyway.
Her patience and focus paid off, as just before the Guardian began to charge its ‘lightning wave’ she managed to break it in half. The Guardian shuddered for a moment, before collapsing on its hind legs. Q had to use her remaining dagger to stab into one of the gaps in its body just to keep herself from falling off. Q wiped off the sweat on her brow and finally allowed herself to relax, now that the Guardian was defeated… or so she thought. She was suddenly made aware of a low booming sound which vaguely resembled a howl coming from above her. Looking up, she realized the Guardian’s head was looking straight into the sky while red light began to gather in its mouth.
“That’s bad, that’s very bad.” Q didn’t even know what the light would do, but instinctively knew it wouldn’t be pleasant. She began to rapidly scale the Guardian’s back, almost slipping off in her haste as she hurried to the top. By the time she reached the Guardian’s head she saw that its eyes had gotten dull, but the light in its mouth was getting brighter by the second and Q was on the verge of panicking at this unexpected turn of events. It was at this time that a flash of light caught her eye, and she noticed that the dagger which had gotten stuck in its eye was glowing faintly. Upon closer inspection it seemed that there was ‘something’ deep inside its eye, but it was very faint.
“Guess there’s no other option!” Q turned around and climbed up to the tip of the Guardian’s snout. By this time the light was completely blinding, illuminating the surroundings with a frightening red. Her face bathed in the red light, Q smiled, then jumped off the snout and with a yell used [Gathering Storm] to smash down on her dagger. With a satisfying ‘crack’ she felt the dagger go deeper into the eye and felt something break deep within the Guardian’s head. At the same time the light in the Guardian’s mouth finally erupted, completely covering Q and dyeing her vision in red.
From a distance away, around the center of the village, a lone figure watched the entire battle. Sanor, who had circled back around because he was worried about Q, happened to come across her final struggle against the Guardian. Despite her figure sharing the same color as the red light which filled the vermillion forest, Sanor still found her to be the most brilliant light of all. “The lights, that guide your way in the dark…” He turned his gaze to the sky, where the astralites were rumored to reside, and he could’ve sworn he saw one shine slightly. “Thank you, Q. I’ll always remember you, as the brightest light that guided me when I was lost.” And then, his form shimmered, and disappeared.
[The Brightest Light] – No matter what adversities she faces, her spirit will always shine bright and strong. May her light shine everlasting.
– Increases ‘intensity’ of any spells or skills which generate light.
[Staff Mastery]: Indicates your proficiency with staffs. The higher the level the more easily you can use staffs and learn skills related to them.
[Vigorous]: Increases the amount of time you can perform strenuous actions.
[Climbing]: Allows you to climb faster
(Conditions fulfilled for acquiring skill [Free Movement])
[Free Movement]: Increases the ease at which you traverse any terrain. This skill is a combination of [Running], [Jumping], [Climbing]. Obtaining this skill will remove the skills listed.
[Punching]: Increases the power of your punches.
(Conditions fulfilled for acquiring skill [Unarmed Mastery])
[Unarmed Mastery]: Indicates your proficiency while unarmed. The higher the level the more easily you can fight unarmed and learn skills related to it.
Ancient Guardian’s Core
The center of power for any golem-type creature, this one is particularly large and powerful. It uncontrollably sparks with electricity. Can be refined or used in crafting for an enhanced effect.