The Elite jenglot was now closing the distance, finally recovered from Arthur’s surprise attack. Another Refined Energy Dart was forming around his third eye, but Arthur’s thoughts and perception was muddied from the pain in his torso and blood loss. Arthur narrowly blocked the jenglot’s swipe with the haft of his spear, turning it aside before lashing back out with the spear tip. Enraged, the Elite chose not to back off but take the attack high on its shoulder.
Spear tip pierced, tearing flesh and muscle. Yet, it allowed the jenglot to finally close the distance on him. Unable to retreat quickly enough, Arthur barely dodged the snapping jaws and instead received a headbutt that sent him sprawling to the ground.
A second later, his spear was torn away from his hands, as the monster gripped the weapon by the haft and pulled it from his weakened grip. Another clawed hand rose, but it paused. Even in its anger, the monster wanted to watch Arthur’s fear, wanted to savour its victory.
It was its greatest fault. And the reason why, creeping up from behind, Shar managed to land a technique-powered, two-handed strike to the back of its lower leg. Biting through fur, muscle, and bone with one fell swoop, it cut the limb clean from the creature and tipped it over.
Legs coming up desperately, Arthur kicked at the falling monster, sending it flopping away. Rather than follow up on the successful attack, though, Arthur rolled over screaming in pain as the movement had further damaged his own injured torso.
“I got you, you puda!” Shar cried, rushing over to lash out at the monster as it tried to clamber to its feet. Meaty thunks filled the air, even as Arthur struggled to contain the pain. Heavenly Sage’s Mischief had faded away, making each moment of pain even stronger.
Tuning out the noise, the pain, and the damage, he scrambled within his mind to trigger the Accelerated Healing technique. He could not afford to wait, but he focused the rampant energies that threatened to heal everything at the same time towards his own body, hauling on the sticky energy that coursed through him to focus on the wounds.
To his surprise, the entire process was easier than ever. Perhaps it was the new trait; perhaps it was the multiple rounds of healing and slow understanding of the process. Perhaps it was just the desperate straits that his body was experiencing.
Ragged ends of his open stomach wound, parted muscle fibres, and even separated organs began to pull together, clipped blood vessels linking to one another. The Yin chi that pervaded his body dulled the pain he was facing, making it easier for him to concentrate and patch the wound. In short order, the open wound along his stomach had closed, new flesh and fragile muscle fibres stitched into one piece.
Forcing himself to his feet, Arthur looked around, uncertain how much time had passed.
Not long, for Shar had just finished killing the Elite and clambering off the still body. Its gruesomely mutilated corpse was bleeding into the ground. He spotted Rani unmoving on the ground, two jenglot corpses nearby. However, the three other women—including Uswah, for she had miraculously returned to battle, releasing globs of darkness to strike monster eyes with her remaining arm—were hard pressed. Mel and Jan were both bleeding freely from numerous wounds.
Breathing hard, Shar stalked towards the battling group. Arthur made a quick count of the remaining monsters, noting there were only four left: one seriously injured, two mildly injured, and one mostly untouched. The group had improved in their desperate straits, but exhaustion was taking its toll now. He grabbed his spear and followed Shar to join the fight.
Mel was struck; while her raised spear had blocked one attack, she never saw the sweeping leg that hit her high on the knee. Her foot crumpled even as she spun through the air. A descending claw slammed through the spear that gave way, drawing blood that flew against the darkened sky like new ink drops on death’s ledger.
Then it was only Jan left standing. She swung her parang around as fast as she could, doing her best to ward off the other monsters as they crowded in. For once, their large size was a hindrance, for they could not all attack her at once.
Pulling another Refined Energy Dart into being, Arthur released the attack into the back of a monster that Shar was already rushing towards. The attack caused the already-injured creature to react, its body twitching uncontrollably as the energy attack burrowed into its back. Before it could recover, Shar plunged her parang into the open wound and tore the blade out sideways, dropping the monster.
Three to go.
Uswah tossed another globe of darkness and collapsed immediately after, never even seeing her own attack wrap itself around another jenglot. The monster, face covered, was unable to see. Jan ducked under its wildly swinging arms. Pushing with as much force as she could muster, she leaped and cut an opening in its throat, washing her in a welter of blood.
The successful attack was costly, though, for another jenglot struck out as its compatriot collapsed and Jan landed. Barely getting her weapon in place to parry the monster’s claw attack, she lost one of her fingers. Then skin across her face and down her neck was torn, the blow spinning the woman aside. Another claw attack caught her in the back. Jan was now on the ground, moaning piteously.
Before the two monsters could take further advantage, an Energy Dart from Arthur and Shar’s parang arrived.
The Dart crippled one monster in the foot. Rushing behind his Dart, Arthur angled himself to catch the monster in the side. The spear-tip sliced all the way down to its ankle. Collapsing to the ground, the monster was easy prey for Shar’s swinging blade, though she took additional wounds in return, leaving her bloody and clutching her injured torso.
Checking within his own core, Arthur grimaced. He was nearly out of refined energy. Nearly.
Enough at least to form one more Refined Energy Dart, which was what he pulled to his third eye. No reason to play fair, not when his opponent was bigger, stronger, and nastier than him. However, to Arthur’s surprise, the monster glanced around at the corpses of its brethren and then turned tail and ran.
Blinking, Arthur relaxed his grip on the aura that he had been forming, allowing the energy to return to his core. Gripping his burning side, he watched the monster as it fled into the darkness of the trees. Then he looked to the injured group, many of them unconscious and others barely hanging on.
“Well . . . that could have gone better,” Arthur said. Then, mind still spinning, he could not help but add, “If I was a bettor, I could not have sworn, we’d have won.”