There’s no fair or unfair in battle.
Vandrad emerged from the portal between worlds, stumbling out into a brand new dimension. As his eyes cleared from the transition, he found himself standing upon a rug of pure, unfiltered grass. His brow furrowed as he turned his attention upwards, looking to take in the sight of the rest of the world. From a world of complete night sky he had stepped into one comprised of wild and untamed forest. Thick trees had grown up all around him, raising high into the air above to where they disappeared among a thicket of leaves and branches. Expansive bushes and ferns were spread out along the ground in all directions and immense boulders sat comfortable in resting places around several different streams and rivers that poured themselves between roots and outcroppings. He spotted alien looking critters dancing among the trunks, off in their own little world of scavenging.
Vandrad was stunned. He had seen plenty of things in the world but this was… impressive. Even if it was the creation of someone else’s magic, the intricate detail was astounding. He took a few steps forward as he looked around the realm further, taking in all the sights he could. He was so caught up in it that he was nearly knocked over when Patty came rushing up to him. “Vandrad! Look at this illusion! The amount of detail this person had to think of create such a fascinating design palette is incredible. This person is truly an artist… even if it is of the homicidal nature,” she said to him, pointing to several different objects as they caught her attention.
"The hell are you doing, rushing through that portal? It could have vaporized you!” The Prince of Bellum regained his senses enough to push himself away from her, sneering.
“Well clearly you weren’t thinking about that either, as you followed right after me. Were you…?” She paused, her brow knitting together as she pieced the information into a portrait “Were you worried about me? Oh Vandrad, look at you. Here I thought I was dealing with an emotionless thug but you really do have a heart in there, even if it is three sizes too small.”
"I do not care what happens to you, idiot woman, especially if you run into places without taking a second to think. But between the choices of taking a risky chance and facing oblivion, I opted to wager on the former. Whatever the case, it seems we need to locate this so-called sibling of our captor and slay him.” Vandrad had pulled himself out from his awe and was back to being as focused as ever. His eyes snapped over to a small creature, that looked like pig made of plant life. He brought his hand up and prepared to loose a blast at it, in hopes of either antagonizing whatever enemy lay within the thicket.
But Patty stepped in quickly, grabbing his wrist and pushing his hand upwards. “So you’re just going to start blasting anything moves?! How about a little decorum, Vandrad? You think they would make something look cute and cuddly and then have it turn out to be vicious?” Her own words caught up to her and she paused. “Actually, from a strategic standpoint, that would guarantee a fifty-four percent increase to possible victory. But they are clearly leaving us alone. We should be looking for something far more violent looking; something with claws and teeth and… what’s that noise?” As she spoke, there was a distinct rumbling echoing from the tree line before them. With every word it grew louder and stronger, shaking the very ground beneath their feet. There was also the fact that the trees were waving from side to side, pushed around by some tremendous force. Only a moment later did they spot a massive tree creature, quite literally frolicking between the trunks like a maiden in a garden. It chuckled as it went, a deep rumbling noise that bubbled and brewed magic power. But besides that, it seemed almost innocent.
“Look at him… he’s having so much fun,” Patty cooed softly, smiling at the dancing creature.
"He looks like a stupid oaf,” Vandrad commented with a scoff, shaking his head.
The dancing came to an abrupt stop. The creature turned slowly towards the two of them, the pleasantness in its features melting away as it lay its gaze on them. Its entire form turned to face off with them, its pleasant gallop through the forest coming to an abrupt end. “I think you made him mad, Vandrad…” Patty said to him softly as she took a step back.
A mind numbing roar erupted from the creature, a battle cry if there ever was one. Its arms jerked forward towards them and, from the trees above, vines came spiraling down towards them. Vandrad’s magical energy surged up around him, transforming him instantly into his Empowerment form. He thrust his hand upward and unleashed a blast of magic, vaporizing the first threads of forestry that came upon them. He reached out and grabbed Patty around the waist and shot off the ground as the vines came crashing down where they had just been standing.
“Hey! Let me go!” She demanded, wiggling in his grip.
"Stop moving you dolt, I am trying to get you to safety!” Vandrad hissed at her as he shot up into the trees. But as he approached the branches, they started to bend and stretch out towards him, their wooden limbs reaching. Growling, he jerked his body sideways and surged around several of the appendages, dipping just below the foliage. It was then that he saw the creature, having leapt up and brought back its fist to punch him. Acting as quickly as he could, he tossed Patricia away from him, hoping he had calculated his throw correctly. But he didn’t have time to see as the wooden fist crashed into him and sent him spinning through the air. He crashed through several tree trunks, tearing their wooden frames asunder and causing them to go crashing to the ground. One managed to hold up against his impact, though half of its body was reduced to wood chips. Embedded in the wooden crater, Vandrad ripped his limbs free and stood on the makeshift wooden lip his impact had made.
"So you want to play rough, huh?” He asked the creature, smirking as his aura ignited around him. He shot out and around the tree trunks, quickly catching back up to where he’d been hit the first time. As he emerged from the condensed area, he spotted a large boulder moving… with wooden limbs behind it. A moment later the creature threw the massive rock at Vandrad, looking to finish off what it had started. And to its credit the stone hit true, flying back several yards. But then it came to a stop, hovering in the air. Pressed against its face, Vandrad dug his fingers into the stone, cracking the smooth surface as he took a firm grip of it. His aura flared higher, the golden glow outlining the boulder. He rocketed forward with the rock in front of him, dipping down and slamming the makeshift weapon into the creature. It roared in agony as it stumbled back into a tree, breaking it off near its core before all three, rock, tree and beast, fell to the ground.
The Prince of Bellum grinned as he leveled his hand with the creature, magic compiling in his palm. But then the vines returned; snapping out from the darkness and wrapping around his limbs. Grunting, Vandrad fought against the tendrils to no avail. Meanwhile the creature started to get to its feet, a deep growl rumbling out of its throat. Its fist came back, this time growing pointed rocks and jagged tree limbs by its knuckles. It swung back, ready to deliver a far more fatal punch to the struggling Prince this time. But then its started to fall apart. Chunks of its body fell in odd shapes as its body upwards of its legs, crumbled to pieces. The glowing green light in its mouth and eyes started to dwindle and fade away as its being came to a sudden and abrupt end.
Vandrad stared in shock. The creature was dead just below him, despite it having the perfect opportunity to strike at him. Movement caught his attention and he turned to see Patricia Reeves floating up towards him, adjusting her glasses. Her right hand was completely coated in a pink light – no, it was pink ethernano energy not unlike his own. She came to stop right before him and swiped her hand through the vines, cutting them with the makeshift blade. As the energy projection faded, she stared at Vandrad studiously, taking in his form. “This magic…” She said in wonder. “You manipulate ethernano on a molecular level and shape it how you want. You’re… just like me.” She seemed just as stunned by the revelation as he was.
Vandrad had been told that his magic was rare; that people didn’t have a connection like he did to the natural world’s flow of ethernano. But he could sense it from her even now; she was open to the invisible lines that flowed through the atmosphere just as he was. He reached down and pulled the vines from his limbs, letting the limp growths fall down towards the ground. Then as his transformation faded, he looked at her. "How…?”
“When you threw me, I managed to get my magic going. And after I saw him focused on you, I snuck around and waited to strike.” She said matter-of-factually. “I told you before; you don’t know anything about me, Vandrad. I may be a doctor but that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced battles before.” A sharp sound brought their attention to a new door appearing out of thin air, right on level with them. Two X’s glittered above the frame, signifying its occupant. She turned to face Vandrad once more. “One down. No point in stopping now.”
He was still trying to wrap his head around everything he had seen. But rather than lose his focus by dwelling on it too long he nodded in agreement. For now, survival was far more important than pondering. Questions and answers could come after. The pair floated towards the door and Patty turned the handle, leading them into the next area and the next trial.