The mortal was acting strangely, expressing gratitude at the display of Cassius' magic. The causality that connected these two events, the use of magic and the expression of gratitude, naturally escaped the wraith. To him, it was clear that he had acted on an impulse, following his own desires, and as such, he had a hard time understanding why she was thankful for that. Humans were extremely unpredictable creatures. Cassius elected to think not much more of it, simply tilting the head of the armor towards her when addressed. Perhaps now was the best moment to bring forward the questions he had reserved for later, although Cassius began to doubt. The way she expressed her surprise and what he interpreted to be discomfort led him to believe that her presence here was a coincidence. So much for investigating the mystery of his existence. Although the opportunity seemed to have passed, though, Cassius felt no disappointment, or anything else, for that matter. It was simply what it was.
There was something else, though. The presence from earlier had been weakened, and while the undead energy that replaced the creatures' life force had dimmed considerably, it had not been extinguished. No, quite the opposite. It began to flare up anew, coalescing towards a single point in space, the remaining shards of undead magic drawn towards each other to form something new. It was to be expected. The crows turned into a form that was better adapted to what their undead essence perceived as a threat, something that Cassius could understand. He would have done and regularly did the same thing, after all. In this case, the wraith presented an obstacle that the creature had to overcome to get to its meal, the mortal. It was likely that it would pursue Cassius, meaning he had no other chance but to engage it.
"Undead ... still alive ... stay back ... out of ... the way", the rusty, hoarse voice echoed outwards from inside the steel armor once more.
Cassius reckoned that this would be enough to get the girl to get out of the immediate vicinity of what would undoubtedly become a small skirmish, the thought that the mortal could be a mage not even occurring to him in the slightest. If she had any powers to speak of, he was sure, she would have already used it to defend herself or annihilate the threat to her safety. It was the logical thing to do. A logic Cassius intended to follow.
Dropping the bow, the weapon vanished back into the dark pocket space that held his collection, the wraith extending a single hand forward. With a bright glow of azure arcane force, an axe materialized in his grasp, the bird creature, now fully formed, unleashing a shrieking scream before charging towards him. The mortal had already left his immediate thoughts, his entire being and consciousness focussing on the beast before him as he readied himself, greeting the hulking form of the undead monstrosity with a wide, forceful swing of his weapon.
The blade of the axe sunk deep into the flesh of its shoulder, cleaving through the undead form with relative ease. That, however, did little to halt the creature's momentum, the undead body slamming into Cassius' armor with crashing force, lifting him and the suit of metal he possessed off the ground and launching him several feet back into the cold dirt, his weapon remaining stuck within the creature's side. Of course, there was no cry of pain or daze from the impact, as Cassius was incapable of feeling either. Instead, he lifted himself back up immediately, a quick sprinting dash towards the creature seemingly surprising the beast. Cassius, thanks to the fact he was not inhibited by the limitations of a mortal body, was surprisingly nimble and fast, no flesh slowing down the movements of the armor. He ducked underneath a wide swing of the creature, pulling free his axe before spinning around, rising to his full height behind the creature. With one determined leap, Cassius jumped onto it's back, gripping the feathered body for support before bringing the weapon down once more, the blade steeped in the same deeply azure glow than before. With an explosion of light-blue arcane sparks and thick, onyx-hued blood spurting from the undead's body, the wraith smashed the weapon into the back of its head, the blade partially emerging from the other side of the skull. Ungracefully, the thing's limbs fell groundward, the body that was now dead for good slumping to the dirt below as the life force of its undead existence was brutally destroyed.
... Or at least, that was what Cassius had hoped for. He could feel the presence still, the essence of the thing he had just killed instead simply seeping into the ground below, traveling through the earth at a rapid pace as it dashed away towards another position. Unburdened by the wear and tear of combat, Cassius calmly followed the movements, sensing it coming to a stop just moments later.
In the other direction a good few dozen feet away from the wraith and possibly the mortal a scarecrow would suddenly spring to life, invigorated with and possessed by undead essence, an unstable soul that would be merciless in the pursuit of its goal. It appeared like whatever Cassius was fighting was much like him. Perhaps they could reach some kind of understanding?
"What ... are you?", the wraith's dull voice rang out again, driven by a morbid sense of curiosity.
His question was not met with an answer, however. Instead, the scarecrow, its eyes alight with glowing blue magic, cackled ferociously, seeming to take after Cassius. It reached out, summoning a scythe into its grasp. The wraith cocked his head. His opponent was awfully versatile and extremely adaptive, traits that Cassius, in his own twisted way, viewed as admirable, desirable even. Not to mention that these traits made the undead existence an immense threat to mortal and wraith alike. It was almost a shame that the thing viewed him as an enemy. He had questions he wanted answered, after all. Still, he would not hesitate. The situation was clear. It was either him or the other ...
... and he would not be the one to lose.
Word Count: 1,898 / 1,500